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Thinking of purchasing a book but not sure whether it’s going to be worth the purchase price? Check here first to see if it’s been reviewed in Australian Archaeology!  All of the book reviews from recent volumes, listed alphabetically by book title, compiled in one place to make it easy for you to find what you’re looking for.





Abandonments of Settlements and Regions: Ethnoarchaeological and Archaeological Approaches edited by C.M. Cameron and S.A. Tomka (reviewed by Peter Veth).

Aboriginal Economy and Society: Australia at the Threshold of Colonisation by Ian Keen (reviewed by Peter Veth).

A Companion to Archaeology edited by John Bintliff (reviewed by Bruno David).

A Companion to Rock Art edited by Jo McDonald and Peter Veth (reviewed by Ken Mulvaney).

A Companion to Social Archaeology edited by Lynn Meskell and Robert W. Preucel (reviewed by Alistair Paterson).

A Critical Exploration of Frameworks for Assessing the Significance of New Zealand’s Historic Heritageby Sara Donaghey (reviewed by Jane Lennon).

Adventures in Fugawiland: A Computer Simulation in Archaeology, Second Edition by T. Douglas Price and Anne Birgette Gebauer (reviewed by Katrina MacDonald).

Aesthetics and Rock Art III Symposium: Proceedings of the XV USIPP World Congress edited by Thomas Heyd and John Clegg (reviewed by June Ross).

A Fearsome Heritage: Diverse Legacies of the Cold War edited by John Schofield and Wayne Cocroft (reviewed by Iain Stuart).

African Civilisations – Pre-Colonial Cities and States in Tropical Africa: An Archaeological Perspectiveby Graham Coonah (reviewed by Zoe Wakelin-King).

After Caption Cook: The Archaeology of the Recent Indigenous Past in Australia edited by Rodney Harrison and Christine Williamson (reviewed by Judy Birmingham).

After Modernity: Archaeological Approaches to the Contemporary Past by Rodney Harrison and John Schofield (reviewed by Alice Gorman).

Altered Ecologies: Fire, Climate and Human Influence on Terrestrial Landscapes edited by Simon Haberle, Janelle Stevenson and Matthew Prebble (reviewed by Bruno David).

Altered States: Material Cultural Transformations in the Arafura Region edited by Clayton Fredericksen and Ian Walters (reviewed by Christopher Chippindale).

American Beginnings: The Prehistory and Palaeoecology of Beringia edited by Frederick Hadleigh West (reviewed by Rob Gargett).

A Millenium of Culture Contact by Alistair Paterson (reviewed by Angela Middleton).

An Analysis of Ice Age Art. It’s Psychology and Belief System by Noel W. Smith (reviewed by Robert Bednarik).

An Annotated Bibliography of Theses in Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Studies at The University of Queensland, 1948–2000 by Sean Ulm, Anna Schnukal and Catherine Westcott (reviewed by Annie Ross).

Ancestors for the Pigs: Taxonomy and Phylogeny of the Genus Sus by Colin Groves (reviewed by Tim Flannery).

An Archaeology of Australian Since 1788 by Susan Lawrence and Peter Davies (reviewed by Iain Stuart).

An Archaeology of Institutional Confinement. The Hyde Park Barracks, 1848-1886 by Peter Davies, Penny Crook and Tim Murray (reviewed by Susan Piddock).

An Introduction to Landscape by Peter J. Howard (reviewed by Tom Kimber).

A Pacific Odyssey: Archaeology and Anthropology in the Western Pacific. Papers in Honour of Jim Specht edited by Val Attenbrow and Richard Fullagar (reviewed by Alison Crowther).

A Pictoral Guide to Identifying Australian Architecture by R. Apperly, R. Irving and P. Reynolds (reviewed by Susan Lawrence Cheney).


Archaeological Dimensions of World Heritage: From Prevention to Social Implications edited by Alicia Castillo (reviewed by Ian Lilley).


Archaeological Investigation by Martin Carver (reviewed by David Frankel).

Archaeological Typology and Practical Reality: A Dialectical Approach to Artifact Classification and Sorting by W.Y. Adams and E.W. Adams (reviewed by Glenn R. Summerhayes).

Archaeology and Colonialism: Cultural Contact from 5000 BC to the Present by Chris Godsen (reviewed by Rodney Harrison).

Archaeology and Linguistics: Aboriginal Australia in Global Perspective edited by P. McConvell and N. Evans (reviewed by Ian Lilley).

Archaeology as Long-Term History edited by Ian Hodder (reviewed by Matthew Spriggs).

Archaeology of the Chinese Fishing Industry in Colonial Victoria by Alister M. Bowen (reviewed by Neville Ritchie).

Archaeology of the Coastal Exchange System: Sites and Ceramics of the Papuan Gulf edited by David Frankel and James W. Rhodes (reviewed by J. Peter White).

Archaeological Theory and the Politics of Cultural Heritage by Laurajane Smith (reviewed by Thomas F. King).

Archaeological Theory in Practice by Patricia Urban and Edward Schortmann (reviewed by Martin Porr).

Archaeological Theory: Who Sets the Agenda? edited by Norman Yoffee and Andrew Sherratt (reviewed by Laurajane Smith).

Archaeologies of Memory edited by Ruth M. van Dyke and Susan E. Alcock (reviewed by Rodney Harrison)

Archaeologies of Mobility and Movement edited by Mary C. Beaudry and Travis G. Parno (reviewed by Thomas G. Whitley).

Archaeology and the Media edited by Timothy Clark and Marcus Brittain (reviewed by Hilary du Cros).

Archaeology in Practice: A Student Guide to Archaeological Analyses edited by Jane Balme and Alistair Paterson (reviewed by Annie Ross).

Archaeology of Ancient Australia by Peter Hiscock (reviewed by Brian Fagan).

Archaeology of Asia edited by Miriam T. Stark (reviewed by Bill Boyd).

Archaeology of Oceania: Australia and the Pacific Islands edited by Ian Lilley (reviewed by Richard Fullagar).

Archaeology to Delight and Instruct: Active Learning in the University Classroom edited by Heather Burke and Claire Smith (reviewed by Martin Gibbs).

Arrernte Present, Arrernte Past: Invasion, Violence and Imagination in Indigenous Central Australia by Diane Austin-Broos (reviewed by John White).

Art and Archaeology: Collaborations, Conversations, Criticisms edited by Ian Alden Russell and Andrew Cochrane (reviewed by June Ross).

Artefact Classification: A Conceptual and Methodological Approach by Dwight W. Reed (reviewed by David Frankel).

At a Crossroads: Archaeology and First Peoples in Canada edited by George P. Nicholas and Thomas D. Andrews (reviewed by Paul S.C. Tacon)

Australia’s Fossil Heritage: A Catalogue of Important Australian Fossil Sites by the Australian Heritage Council (reviewed by Judith Field).

Australia and the Origins of Agriculture by Rupert Gerritsen (reviewed by Harry Lourandos).

Australian Apocalypse: The Story of Australia’s Greatest Cultural Monument by Robert G. Bednarik (reviewed by Paul Tacon).

Australian Archaeology ’95: Proceedings of the 1995 Australian Archaeological Association Annual Conference edited by Sean Ulm, Ian Lilley and Annie Ross (reviewed by Peter Veth).

Australian Rock Art: A New Synthesis by Robert Layton (reviewed by Claire Smith).

Australia’s Eastern Regional Sequence Revisited: Technology and Change at Capertee 3 by Peter Hiscock and Val Attenbrow (reviewed by Chris Clarkson).

Between Plateau and Plain by June Anderson (reviewed by Madge Schwede).

Beyond Art: Pleistocene Image and Symbol edited by Margaret W. Conkey, Olga Soffer, Deborah Stratmann and Nina G. Jablonski (reviewed by Linda Conroy).

Blue Mountain Dreaming: The Aboriginal Heritage by Eugene Stockton (reviewed by Val Attenbrow).

Bodies in the Bog and the Archaeological Imagination by Karin Sanders (reviewed by Miranda Aldhouse-Green).

Box Office Archaeology: Refining Hollywood’s Portrayals of the Past edited by Julie M. Schablitsky (reviewed by Peter Hiscock).

Bradshaws: Ancient Paintings of North-West Australia by Graeme L. Walshe (reviewed by Mike Morwood).

Bridging the Divide: Indigenous Communities and Archaeology into the 21st Century edited by Caroline Phillips and Harry Allen (reviewed by Chris Wilson).

Bruising the Red Earth: Ochre Mining and Ritual in Aboriginal Tasmania edited by Antonio Sagona (reviewed by Bruno David).

Burning Bush. A Fire History of Australia by Stephen J. Pyne (reviewed by Lesley Head).

Bushfires and Bushtucker: Aboriginal Plant Use in Central Australia by Peter Latz (reviewed by Wendy Beck).

Catalogue of the Roth Collection and Aboriginal Artefacts from North Queensland by Kate Khan (reviewed by Paul Gorecki).

Cave Art: A Guide to the Decorated Ice Age Caves of Europe by Paul Bahn (reviewed by Iain Davidson).

Climate Change: The Science, Impacts and Solutions by A. Barrie Pittock (reviewed by Mike Rowland).

Coastal Themes: An Archaeology of the Southern Curtis Coast, Queensland by Sean Ulm (reviewed by Bryce Barker).

Colouring the Past: The Significance of Colour in Archaeological Research edited by Andrew Jones and Gavin MacGregor (reviewed by Noelene Cole).

Conserving Australian Rock Art: A Manual for Site Managers by David Lampert (reviewed by Christopher Chippendale).

Constructing Frames of Reference: An Analytical Method for Archaeological Theory Building using Ethnographic and Environmental Data Sets by Lewis R. Binford. (reviewed by F. Donald Pate).

Consultation and Cultural Heritage: Let us Reason Together by Claudia Nissley and Thomas F. King (reviewed by Lynley A. Wallis).

Contemporary Archaeology in Theory: A Reader by R.W. Preucel and Ian Hodder (reviewed by Bryce Barker).

Continent of Hunter-Gatherers: New Perspectives in Australian Prehistory by Harry Lourandos (reviewed by Ian McNiven).

Conversations with Landscape edited by Karl Benediktsson and Katrin Anna Lund (reviewed by Harry Lourandos).

Coobool Creek: A Morphological Analysis of the Crania, Mandibles and Dentition of a Prehistoric Australian Human Population by Peter Brown (reviewed by Phillip J. Habgood).

Cultural Heritage, Ethics and the Military edited by Peter G. Stone (reviewed by Umberto Albarella).

Cycles of the Sun, Mysteries of the Moon: The Calender in Mesoamerican Civilization by Vincent H. Malmstrom (reviewed by Gabrielle Vail).


Desert Peoples: Archaeological Perspectives edited by Peter Veth, Mike Smith and Peter Hiscock (reviewed by Mike Basgall).

Digging it up Down Under: A Practical Guide to Doing Archaeology in Australia by Claire Smith and Heather Burke (reviewed by George Nicholas).

Digging up a Past by John Mulvaney (reviewed by Bruno David).

Dingo Makes Us Human by Deborah Bird Rose (reviewed by Peter Thorley).

Dirty Diggers: Tales from the Archaeological Trenches by Paul Bahn (reviewed by Duncan Wright).

Documentary Archaeology in the New World edited by Mary V. Beaudry (reviewed by Tim Murray).

Documental Filmmaking for Archaeologists by Peter Pepe and Joseph W. Zarzynski (reviewed by Karen Martin-Stone).

Doing Archaeology: A Cultural Resource Management Perspective by Thomas F. King (reviewed by John L. Craib).

East of Wallace’s Line: Studies of Past and Present Maritime Cultures of the Indo-Pacific Region edited by Sue O’Connor and Peter Veth (reviewed by Sandra Bowdler).

East of Wallace’s Line: Studies of Past and Present Maritime Cultures of the Indo-Pacific Region edited by Sue O’Connor and Peter Veth (reviewed by Martin Williams).

Encyclopaedia of Aboriginal Australia: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, society and cultureedited by D. Horton (reviewed by Sharon Wellfare).

Entangled: An Archaeology of the Relationships between Humans and Things by Ian Hodder (reviewed by Martin Porr).

Environmental Archaeology: Principals and Practice by Dena Dincauze (reviewed by Tim Owen).

Excavations, Surveys and Heritage Management in Victoria, Volume 1 edited by Ilya Berelov, Mark Eccleston and David Frankel (reviewed by Pamela Ricardi).

Exhuming Loss: Memory, Materiality and Mass Graves of the Spanish Civil War by Layla Renshaw (reviewed by Jon Prangnell).

Explorations into Highland New Guinea, 1930-1935 by Michael J. Leahy (reviewed by J. Peter White).

Exploring Central Australia: Society, the Environment and the 1984 Horn Expedition by S.R. Morton and D. J. Mulvaney (reviewed by June Ross).

Fantastic Dreaming: The Archaeology of an Aboriginal Mission by Jane Lydon (reviewed by Celmara Pocock).

Faunal Extinction in an Island Society: Pygmy Hippopotamus Hunters of Cyprus by Alan H. Simmons and Associates (reviewed by Mike Smith).

‘Fire and Hearth’ Forty Years On: Essays in Honour of Sylvia J. Hallam edited by Caroline Bird and Esmee Webb (reviewed by Harry Lourandos).

First Farmers: The Origins of Agricultural Societies by Peter Bellwood (reviewed by Tim Denham).

First Footprints: The Epic Story of the First Australians by Scott Cane (reviewed by Douglas Bird).

First in their Field: Women and Australian Anthropology edited by Julie Marcus (reviewed by Claire Smith).

First Light by Peter Ackroyd (reviewed by Tony Smith).

Flintknapping: Making and Using Stone Tools by John C. Whittaker (reviewed by Katerina McDonald).

Frauds, Myths and Mysteries: Science and Pseudoscience in Archaeology by Kenneth L. Fedden (reviewed by F. Donald Pate).

Gendered Archaeology edited by Jane Balme and Wendy Beck (reviewed by Stephanie Moser).

Geoarchaeology: The Earth-Science Approach to Archaeological Interpretation by G. Rapp Jr and C.L. Hill (reviewed by Rob Gargett).

Gunyah, Goondie and Wurley: The Aboriginal Architecture of Australia by Paul Memmott (reviewed by Cherrie de Leiuen).

Handbook of Forensic Anthropology and Archaeology edited by Soren Blau and Douglas Ubelaker (reviewed by Judith Littleton).

Handbook of Landscape Archaeology edited by Bruno David and Julian Thomas (reviewed by David S. Whitley).

Heritage, Communities and Archaeology by Laurajane Smith and Emma Waterton (reviewed by Amy Roberts).

Heritage: Critical Approaches by Rodney Harrison (reviewed by Keir Reeves).

High Lean Country: Land, People and Memory in New England edited by Alan Atkinson, J.S. Ryan, Iain Davidson and Andrew Piper (reviewed by Sharon Sullivan).

Historical Archaeologies of Cognition: Explorations into Faith, Hope and Charity edited by James Symonds, Anna Badcock and Jeff Oliver (reviewed by Edwina Kay).

Historical Archaeology edited by Martin Hall and Stephen W. Silliman (reviewed by Jon Prangnell).

Historical Archaeology: Why the Past Matters by Barbara J. Little (reviewed by Alasdair Brooks).

Hominid Adaptations and Extinctions by David W. Cameron (reviewed by Sylvia Hallam).

How a Continent Created a Nation by Libby Robin (reviewed by Veronia Strang).

Human Evolution, Language and Mind: A Psychological and Archaeological Enquiry by William Noble and Iain Davidson (reviewed by Howard Morphy).

Hunters and Collectors: The Antiquarian Imagination in Australia by Tom Griffiths (reviewed by Mike Smith).

Hunter-Gatherers in History, Archaeology and Anthropology edited by Alan Barnard (reviewed by Ian McNiven).

Inauthentic Archaeologies: Public Uses and Abuses of the Past by Troy Lovata (reviewed by Denis Gojak).

Indigenous Peoples and the Collaborative Stewardship of Nature: Knowledge Binds and Institutional Conflicts by Anne Ross, Kathleen Pickering Sherman, Jeffrey G. Snodgrass, Henry D. Delacore and Richard Sherman (reviewed by Joe Watkins).

Inscribed Landscapes: Marking and Making Place edited by Bruno David and Meredith Wilson (reviewed by Michael Slack and Richard Fullagar).

Interpreting Ground-Penetrating Radar for Archaeology by Lawrence B. Conyers (reviewed by Ian Moffat).

Introduction to Rock Art Research by David S. Whitley (reviewed by Natalie R. Franklin).

Investigating Olduvai : Archaeology of Human Origins by Jeanne Sept (reviewed by Peter Grave).

Invitation to Archaeology Second Edition by Philip Rahtz (reviewed by Simon Holdaway).

Islamic Art and Archaeology of Palestine by Myriam Rosen-Ayalon (reviewed by Alan Walmsley).

Kakadu: Natural and Cultural Heritage and Management edited by Tony Press, David Lea, Ann Webb and Alistair Graham (reviewed by Sean Ulm).

Landscapes, Rock-Art and the Dreamings: An Archaeology of Pre-Understanding by Bruno David (reviewed by Tim Murray).

Lapita Design Form and Composition: Proceedings of the Lapita Design Workshop Canberra, Australia, December 1988 edited by Matthew Spriggs (reviewed by Jim Specht).

Late Holocene Indigenous Economies of the Tropical Australian Coast: An Archaeological Study of the Darwin Region by Patricia M. Bourke (reviewed by Sandra Bowdler).

Lessons for Human Survival: Nature’s Record from the Quaternary edited by Paul Bishop (reviewed by Scott Smithers).

Lithics Down Under: Australian Perspectives on Lithic Reduction, Use and Classification edited by Chris Clarkson and Lara Lamb (reviewed by Ian J. McNiven).

Lithics in the Land of the Lightning Brothers: The Archaeology of Wardaman Country, Northern Territory by Chris Clarkson (reviewed by Richard A. Gould).

Love’s Obsession: The Lives and Archaeology of Jim and Eve Stewart by Judy Powell (reviewed by Andrew Sneddon).

Making Archaeology Happen: Design versus Dogma by Martin Carver (reviewed by Tim Murray).

Managing Archaeological Resources: Global Context, National Programs, Local Actions edited by Francis P. McManamon, Andrew Stout and Jodi A. Barnes (reviewed by Thomas F. King).

Many Exchanges: Archaeology, History, Community and the Work of Isabel McBryde edited by Ingereth Macfarlane with Mary-Jane Mountain and Robert Paton (reviewed by Martin Gibbs).

Marine Molluscan Remains from Franchthi Cave by Judith C. Shackleton (reviewed by Moya Smith).

Maritime Archaeology: A Technical Handbook by J. Green (reviewed by Iain Stuart).

Material Culture of the North Wellesley Islands by Paul Memmott (reviewed by Asa Ferrier).

Measured on Stone: Stone Artefact Reduction, Residential Mobility and Aboriginal Land Use in Arid Central Australia by W. Boone Law (reviewed by Michael J. Shott).

Motherland by Timothy O’Grady (reviewed by Tony Smith).

Much More than Stones and Bones: Australian Archaeology in the Late Twentieth Century by Hilary Du Cros (reviewed by Tracey Ireland).

Mungo over Millenia: The Willandra Landscape and its People edited by Helen Lawrence (reviewed by Josephine M. Flood).

Mystery Islands: Discovering the Ancient Pacific by Tom Koppel (reviewed by Matthew Spriggs).

Native Title and the Transformation of Archaeology in the Postcolonial World edited by Ian Lilley (reviewed by Alistair Paterson).

Neolithic by Susan Foster McCarter (reviewed by Phillip C. Edwards).

Ngarrindjeri Wurrawarrin: A World That Is, Was and Will Be by Diane Bell (reviewed by James Knight).

Nomads in Archaeology by Roger Cribb (reviewed by Ron Lampert).

Nonlinear Models for Archaeology and Anthropology: Continuing the Revolution edited by Christopher S. Beekman and William W. Baden (reviewed by Mal Ridges).

North American Archaeology edited by Timothy R. Pauketat and Diana DiPaolo Loren (reviewed by Michael Slack).

Object Lessons: Archaeology and Heritage in Australia edited by Jane Lydon and Tracey Ireland (reviewed by Celmara Pocock).

Oceania Explorations: Lapita and Western Pacific Settlement edited by Stuart Bedford, Christophe Sand and S.P. Connaughton (reviewed by Patrick V. Kirch).

Otoliths of Common Australian Temperate Fish: A Photographic Guide by Dianne Furlani, Rosemary Gales and David Pemberton (reviewed by Marshall Weisler).

Our People’ Series (reviewed by Anne Skates).

Owls, Caves and Fossils: Predation, Preservation and Accumulation of Small Mammal Bones in Caves, with an Analysis of the Pleistocene Cave Faunas from Westbury-Sub-Mendip, Somerset, United Kingdom by Peter J. Andrews (reviewed by David Cameron).

Pacific Production Systems. Approaches to Economic Prehistory edited by D.E. Yen and J.M.J. Mummery (reviewed by J.P White).

Palaeonenvironmental Change and the Persistence of Human Occupation in Southwestern Australian Forests by Joe Dortch (reviewed by Sylvia Hallam).

Palaeopathology of Aboriginal Australians: Health and Disease across a Hunter-Gatherer Continent by Stephen Webb (reviewed by Graham Knuckey and F. Donald Pate).

Patterns of Burning over Archaeological Sites and Landscapes: Prospection and Analysis by Alistair Marshall (reviewed by Kelsey Lowe).

Peopling the Cleland Hills: Aboriginal History in Western Central Australia 1850-1980 by Mike A. Smith (reviewed by Jo McDonald).

Pictures of Time Beneath: Science, Heritage and the Uses of the Deep Past by Kirsty Douglas (reviewed by Josephine M. Flood).

Pieces of the Vanuatu Puzzle: Archaeology of the North, South and Centre by Stuart Bedford (reviewed by Jennifer G. Kahn).

Pinning Down the Past: Archaeology, Heritage and Education Today by Mike Corbishey (reviewed by Craig Baxter).

Pitt Rivers. The Life and Archaeological work of Lieutenant-General Augustus Henry Lane Fox Pitt Rivers, DCL FRS FSA by Mark Bowden (reviewed by Ron Lampert).

Place as Occupational Histories: An Investigation of the Deflated Surface Archaeological Record of Pine Point and Langwell Stations, Western New South Wales, Australia by Justin Shiner (reviewed by Ben Marwick).

Plants in Australian Archaeology edited by Wendy Beck, Annie Clark and Lesley Head (reviewed by Bill Boyd).

Pleistocene Geology, Palaeontology and Archaeology of the Soa Basin, Central Flores, Indonesia edited by F. Aziz, M.J. Morwood and G.D. van den Bergh (reviewed by Jillian Garvey).

Port Essington: The Historical Archaeology of a North Australian Nineteenth Century Military Outpostby Jim Allen (reviewed by Charles E. Orser Jr).

Prehistoric Marine Resource Use in the Indo-Pacific Regions edited by Rintaro Ono, Alex Morrison and David Addison (reviewed by Mirani Litster).

Prehistory and Heritage: The Writings of John Mulvaney by D.J. Mulvaney (reviewed by R.J. Lampert).

Prodigious Birds. Moas and Moa-Hunting in Prehistoric New Zealand by Atholl Anderson (reviewed by Brendan Marshall).

Quantifying Diversity in Archaeology edited by Robert D. Leonard and George T. Jones (reviewed by Colin Pardoe).

Quaternary Environments by M.A.J. Williams, D.L. Dunkerley, P. De Deckker, A.P. Kershaw and T. Stokes (reviewed by F. Donald Pate).

Quaternary Environments (Second Edition) by M.A.J. Williams, D.L. Dunkerley, P. De Deckker, A.P. Kershaw and J. Chappell (reviewed by F. Donald Pate).

Quinkan Prehistory: The Archaeology of Aboriginal Art in S.E. Cape York Peninsula, Australia edited by Michael J. Morwood and Douglas R. Hobbs (reviewed by Bruno David).

Reading Material Culture: Structuralism, Hermeneutics and Post-Structuralism edited by Christopher Tilley (reviewed by Bruno David).

Recent Studies in Australian Palaeoecology and Zooarchaeology: A Volume in Honour of the Late Su Solomon edited by Jillian Garvey and Judith Field (reviewed by Joe Dortch).

Re-Constructing Archaeology: Theory and Practice by Michael Shanks and Christopher Tilley (reviewed by Bruno David).

Records in Stone: Papers in Memory of Alexander Thom edited by C.L.N. Ruggles (reviewed by R.J. Lampert).

Recovering the Tracks: The Story of Australian Archaeology by David Horton (reviewed by Sandra Bowdler).

Remains to be Seen: Archaeological Insights into Australian Prehistory by David Frankel (reviewed by Annie Ross).

Renewing Women’s Business: A Documentary by Julie Drew and Wardaman Aboriginal Corporation (reviewed by Sally Babidge).

Returning to Nothing: The Meaning of Lost Places by Peter Read (reviewed by Veronica Strang).

Rock Art and Ethnography: Proceedings of the Ethnography Symposium, Australian Rock Art Research Association Conference, Darwin, 1998 edited by M.J. Morwood and D.R. Hobbs (reviewed by Noelene Cole).

Rock Art and Posterity: Conserving, Managing and Recording Rock Art edited by C. Pearson and B.K. Schwartz (reviewed by Christopher Chippendale).

Rock Art of the Dreamtime: Images of Ancient Australia by Josephine Flood (reviewed by Annie Thomas).

Rock Art of the Kimberley: Proceedings of the Kimberley Society Rock Art Seminar held at the University of Western Australia, Perth, 10 September 2005 edited by Mike Donaldson and Kevin Kenneally (reviewed by Paul S.C. Tacon).

Roonka: Fugitive Traces and Climatic Mischief edited by Keryn Walshe (reviewed by Eleanor Crosby).


Salvage Excavation of Human Skeletal Remains at Ocean and Octavia Streets, Narabeen, Site #45-6-2747 by Jo McDonald Cultural Heritage Management Pty Ltd (reviewed by Judith Littleton).

Salvage Excavation of Six Sites along Caddies, Seconds Ponds, Smalls and Cattals Creeks in the Rouse Hill Development Hill Area by Jo McDonald Cultural Heritage Management Pty Ltd (reviewed by Fiona Hook).

Scribes, Warriors and Kings, the City of Copan and the Ancient Maya by William L. Fash (reviewed by Rene Viel and Jay Hall).

Second Nature: The History and Implications of Australia as Aboriginal Landscape by Lesley Head (reviewed by Harry Allen).

Secrets at Hanging Rock by Alan Watchman (reviewed by Claire St George).

Shamans, Sorcerers and Saints: A Prehistory of Religion by Brian Hayden (reviewed by Bryce Barker).

Shared Landscapes: Archaeologies of Attachment and the Pastoral Industry in New South Wales by Rodney Harrison (reviewed by Lynette Russell).

Sites and Bytes: Recording Aboriginal Places in Australia edited by Josephine Flood, Ian Johnson and Sharon Sullivan (reviewed by Peter Veth).

Social Theory and Archaeology by Michael Shanks and Christopher Tilley (reviewed by Bruno David).

Social Theory and Archaeology by Michael Shanks and Christopher Tilley (reviewed by Chris Godsen).

Structured Worlds: The Archaeology of Hunter-Gatherer Thought and Action edited by Aubrey Cannon (reviewed by Colin Pardoe).

Style, Society and Person: Archaeological and ethnological perspectives edited by Christopher Carr and Jill E. Neitzel (reviewed by Bruno David).

Surface Collection: Archaeological Travels in Southeast Asia by Denis Byrne (reviewed by Sarah Milledge Nelson).

Sustaining Heritage: Giving the Past a Future by Tony Gilmour (reviewed by Richard Mackay).


The Archaeologist’s Field Handbook by Heather Burke and Claire Smith (reviewed by Tim Ormsby).

The Archaeologist’s Fieldwork Companion by Barbara Ann Kipfer (reviewed by Ian J. McNiven).

The Archaeologist’s Manual for Conservation: A Gudie to Non-Toxic, Minimal Intervention Artifact Stabilization by Bradley A. Rodgers (reviewed by Brandy Lockhart).

The Archaeology of Australia’s Deserts by Mike Smith (reviewed by Peter Hiscock)

The Archaeology of Contextual Meanings edited by Ian Hodder (reviewed by Matthew Spriggs).

The Archaeology of Difference: Negotiating Cross-Cultural Engagements in Oceania edited by Robin Terrence and Anne Clark (reviewed by Jo McDonald).

The Archaeology of Drylands: Living at the Margin edited by Graeme Barker and David Gilbertson (reviewed by Mike Smith).

The Archaeology of Market Capitalism: A Western Australian Perspective by Gaye Nayton (reviewed by William Lees).

The Archaeology of Montebello Islands, North-West Australia: Late Quaternary Foragers on an Arid Coastline by Peter Veth, Ken Aplin, Lynley A. Wallis, Tiina Manne, Tim Pulsford, Elizabeth White and Alan Chappel (reviewed by Goeff Bailey).

The Archaeology of the Angophora Reserve Rock Shelter by Josephine McDonald (reviewed by Val Attenbrow).

The Archaeology of the Aru Islands, Eastern Indonesia edited by Sue O’Connor, Matthew Spriggs and Peter Veth (reviewed by Daniel Rosendahl).

The Archaeology of the Colonised by Michael Given (reviewed by Rodney Harrison).

The Archaeology of Time by Gavin Lucas (reviewed by Michael Morrison).

The Archaeology of Whaling in Southern Australia and New Zealand by Susan Lawrence and Mark Staniforth (reviewed by Peter Veth).

The Axe had Never Sounded: Place, People and Heritage of Recherche Bay, Tasmania by John Mulvaney (reviewed by Lyndall Ryan).

The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines Made Australia by Bill Gammage (reviewed by Bruno David).

The Bone Readers: Atoms, Genes and the Politics of Australia’s Deep Past by Claudio Tuniz, Richard Gillespie and Cheryl Jones (reviewed by Iain Davidson).

The Bronze Age of Southeast Asia by Charles Higham (reviewed by Robert Theunissen).

The Cainozoic in Australia: A Reappraisal of the Evidence edited by M.A.J. Williams, P. De Deckker and A.P. Kershaw (reviewed by Scott Smithers).

The City in Time and Space by Aidan Southall (reviewed by Jim Walmsley).

The Dark Abyss of Time: Archaeology and Memory by Laurent Olivier (reviewed by Steve Brown).

The Death of Prehistory by Peter Schmidt and Stephen Mrozowski (reviewed by John Giblin).

The Dendroglyphs of ‘Carved Trees’ of New South Wales  by Robert Etheridge (reviewed by Jeanette Hope.

The Destruction of Cultural Heritage in Iraq edited by Peter Stone and Joanne Farchakh Bajjaly (reviewed by Dan Potts).

The Discovery of the Hobbit: The Scientific Breakthrough that Changed the Face of Human History by Mike Morwood and Penny van Oosterzee (reviewed by Michael Green).

The Discovery of the Past: The Origins of Archaeology by Alain Schnapp (reviewed by Heather Burke).

The Domestication of Europe by Ian Hodder (reviewed by Ron Paul Rainbird).

The Early Prehistory of Fiji edited by Geoffrey Clark and Atholl Anderson (reviewed by Yvonne Marshall).

The Fabrication of Aboriginal History. Volume One, Van Diemen’s Land 1803–1847 by Keith Windschuttle (reviewed by Sandra Bowdler).

The Goddess and the Bull: Catalhoyuk: An Archaeological Journey to the Dawn of Civilisation by Michael Balter (reviewed by Andrew Fairbairn).

The History and Archaeology of the Sydney Cove Shipwreck (1797): A Resource for Future Work by Shirley Strachan (reviewed by David Cameron).

The Illusion of Riches: Scale, Resolution and Explanation in Tasmanian Pleistocene Human Behaviourby Richard Cosgrove (reviewed by Judith Field).

The Illustrated History of Humankind edited by Goran Burenhult (reviewed by Jane Balme).

The Incas by Terence N. D’Altroy (reviewed by Dave Bulbeck).

The Languages of Archaeology: Dialogue, Narrative and Writing by Rosemary Joyce  (reviewed by Darren Griffin).

The Lost Legions: Culture Contact in Colonial Australia by Alistair Paterson (reviewed by Nan Rothschild).

The Makers and Making of Indigenous Australian Museum Collections edited by Nicolas Peterson, Lindy Allen and Louise Hamby (reviewed by Michael Westaway).

The Meaning of Water by Veronica Strang (reviewed by Ingereth Macfarlane).

The Naïve Lands: Prehistory and Environmental Change in Australia and the South-West Pacific edited by John Dodson (reviewed by Sandra Bowdler).

The Nature of Heritage: The New South Africa by Lynn Meskell (reviewed by Keir Reeves).

The New Archaeology and Aftermath: A View from Outside the Anglo-American World by K. Paddayya (reviewed by Tessa Corkhill).

The Northern Barbarians 100 BC-AD 300 by Malcolm Todd (reviewed by M. Ruth Megaw).

The Original Australians: Story of the Aboriginal People by Josephine M. Flood (reviewed by J. Peter White).

The Origins and Spread of Domestic Plants in Southwest Asia and Europe edited by Sue Colledge and James Connolly (reviewed by Tim Denham).

The Origins of Hereditary Social Stratification by Malcolm McKay (reviewed by Ian Lilley).

The Origins of War: Violence in Prehistory by Jean Guilaine and Jean Zammit (reviewed by Graham Knuckey).

The Politics of Suffering: Indigenous Australia and the End of the Liberal Consensus by Peter Sutton (reviewed by Luke Godwin).

The Prehistory of the Mind: A Search for the Origins of Art, Religion and Science by Steven Mithen (reviewed by Catherine Mitchell).

The Riches of Ancient Australia by Josephine Flood (reviewed by Wendy Beck).

The Rock Paintings of Arnhem Land, Australia: Social, Ecological and Material Culture Change in the Post-Glacial Period by Darrell Lewis (reviewed by Kim Sales).

The Rock Paintings of Arnhem Land, Australia: Social, Ecological and Material Culture Change in the Post-Glacial Period by Darrell Lewis (reviewed by Natalie Franklin).

The Rocks: Life in Early Sydney by Grace Karskens (reviewed by Jane Lydon).

The Roth Family, Anthropology and Colonial Administration edited by Russell McDougall and Iain Davidson (reviewed by Luke Godwin).

The Science of Human Origins by Claudio Tuniz, Giorgio Manzi and David Caramelli (reviewed by Iain Davidson).

The Shore Whalers of Western Australia: Historical Archaeology of a Maritime Frontier by Martin Gibbs (reviewed by Ian Smith).

The Social Archaeology of Australian Indigenous Societies edited by Bruno David, Bryce Barker and Ian J. McNiven (reviewed by Richard Cosgrove).

The Stone Mirror: A Novel of the Neolithic by Rob Swigart (reviewed by Andy Fairbairn).

The Uses of Style in Archaeology edited by Margaret W. Conkey and Christine A. Hastorf (reviewed by Robert G. Bednarik).

The Willandra Lakes Hominids by S.G. Webb (reviewed by Phillip J. Habgood).

Thinking from Things: Essays in the Philosophy of Archaeology by Alison Wylie (reviewed by Tim Murray).

Time, Energy and Stone Tools by Robin Torrence (reviewed by Dan Witter).

Time to Quarry: The Archaeology of Stone Procurement in Northwestern New South Wales, Australia by Trudy Doelman (reviewed by Justin Shiner).

Tracks, Scats and Other Traces: A Field Guide to Australian Mammals by Barbara Triggs (reviewed by Rob Gargett).

Transitions: Pleistocene to Holocene in Australia and Papua New Guinea edited by Jim Allen and J.F. O’Connell (reviewed by Sandra Bowdler).

Treasures of the Nicholson Museum, The University of Sydney edited by D.T. Potts and K.N. Sowada (reviewed by Vincent Megaw).

23°S: Archaeology and Environmental History of the Southern Deserts edited by Mike Smith and Paul Hesse (reviewed by Peter Thorley).


Uncommon Ground: Cultural Landscapes and Environmental Values by Veronica Strang (reviewed by Wendy Beck).

Uncovering Australia: Archaeology, Indigenous People and the Public by Sarah Colley (reviewed by Ian McNiven).

Understanding Sea-Level Rise and Variability edited by John A. Church, Philip L. Woodworth, Thorkild Aarup and W. Stanley Wilson (reviewed by Mike Rowland).

Uses of Heritage by Laurajane Smith (reviewed by Jane Lennon).

Virtual Archaeology: Re-Creating Ancient Worlds edited by Maurizio Forte and Alberto Siliotti (reviewed by Roland Fletcher).

Visions from the Past: The Archaeology of Australian Aboriginal Art by Mike J. Morwood (reviewed by Meredith Wilson).

Weipa Shell Mounds: Cultural or Natural Deposits? by Geoff Bailey (reviewed by Elizabeth Rich).

Whalers and Free Men: Life on Tasmania’s Colonial Whaling Stations by Susan Lawrence (reviewed by Martin Gibbs).

What is an Animal? edited by Tim Ingold (reviewed by Iain Davidson and William Noble).

What is Archaeology? An Essay on the Nature of Archaeological Research by Paul Courbin (translated by Paul Bahn) (reviewed by Allan Lance).

What’s Changing: Population Size or Land-Use Patterns? The Archaeology of the Upper Mangrove Creek, Sydney Basin by Val Attenbrow (reviewed by Brit Asmussen).

Women in Archaeology: A Feminist Critique edited by Hilary du Cros and Laurajane Smith (reviewed by Alexy Simmons).

Working with Rock Art: Recording, Presenting and Understanding Rock Art Using Indigenous Knowledge edited by Benjamin Smith, Knut Helskog and David Morris (reviewed by Sven Ouzman).

Writing Archaeology: Telling Stories about the Past by Brian Fagan (reviewed by Karen Murphy).


The languages of the Tasmanians and their relation to the peopling of Australia: Sensible and wild theories


Blench Figure 2 Tasmania mid-Indian Ocean ridge

Migration route of Negroes out of Africa, across the mid-Indian Ocean ridge (published in Australian Archaeology 67:15).

Roger Blench

The languages of the Indigenous peoples of Tasmania became extinct in the late nineteenth century and only very fragmentary records remain. What is known about the languages and the conclusions of mainstream linguists are briefly described. As a consequence of the difficulties in interpreting this material, hypotheses concerning the classification of the languages have been the focus of a variety of theories linked to the peopling of Tasmania, some of which are best described as highly speculative. The paper reviews a selection of these theories and the controversies concerning them. It focuses particularly on a new version of Joseph Greenberg’s ‘Indo-Pacific’ theory and the problematic nature of such publications, as well as claims that the ‘true’ history of Negrito peoples has been air-brushed from the record as a consequence of political correctness.

The Faroes grindradráp or pilot whale hunt: the importance of its ‘traditional’ status in debates with conservationists

Bulbeck and Bowdler Figure 3

The gannet harvest on the island of Mykines (published in Australian Archaeology 67:55).

Chilla Bulbeck and Sandra Bowdler

The intense debates between whale-hunting and whale-protecting nations (such as Japan and Iceland versus Australia and the USA) reveal the difficulties of communication between those who derive a livelihood from the products of the environment and those who wish to preserve it, but who do not always live in the same locale. This is demonstrated with a review of some Australian instances of relations between those in the conservation movement and ‘locals’ on the ground, including Indigenous Australians. After opposing it fervently in the early 1980s, Greenpeace has withdrawn its opposition to the pilot whale drive in the Faroe Islands.   In particular, Greenpeace was persuaded by claims that pilot-whale hunting (grindradráp) was a ‘traditional’ activity. The archaeological evidence for whale-hunting and eating whale-meat in the Faroes and other Norse settlements is discussed, followed by an analysis of the resolution of the disagreement between Greenpeace and the Faroes government.

Introduction to Special Volume: More Unconsidered Trifles

Sandra BowdlerJane Balme and Sue O’Connor

This volume was inspired by a desire to mark the occasion of the retirement of Sandra Bowdler in 2007 from a distinguished career in archaeology spanning more than 35 years.

Although the last 24 years of her career were spent as Professor of Archaeology at the University of Western Australia, Sandra earlier taught at the University of Sydney, University of Port Moresby, PNG and University of New England, NSW. As an educator, researcher and mentor Sandra was inspirational for many of her colleagues and students. In range Sandra’s research spanned several geographic regions of the world and a diversity of themes and theoretical concerns. This introduction touches on a few areas of her research which have inspired the contributors to this volume.

Contributors were asked to write on a theme relevant to Sandra’s interests in archaeology, but to eschew hagiography and personal recollection in favour of academic excellence. All papers were refereed according to the usual requirements of Australian Archaeology, as well as by the Editors. We thank the authors and referees for their contributions and the Australian Archaeology Editors Sean Ulm and Annie Ross for their guidance. As with all volumes of this nature we, as editors, were forced to impose deadlines for paper submission that not all authors were able to meet, and some papers did not make it into this volume. We apologise to those who missed the deadline and hope to see their contributions published elsewhere in the future.

Sandra’s earliest independent research focussed on the Bass Point midden site and other NSW coastal midden sites. Her approach to these sites owed a lot to those who pioneered Australian coastal archaeological studies such as Ron Lambert, but also to anthropologists who were interested in the way in which Aboriginal people had organised themselves within the landscape as social groups. In this respect research by peers in anthropology and history such as Gretchen Poiner, Betty Meehan, Nic Peterson, Lyndall Ryan, Annette Hamilton and Diane Bell were equally influential on her early thinking. In writing up her first professional excavation at Bass Point, Sandra attempted a new type of midden study which was both ‘testable’, in line with the then ‘New Archaeology’, but at the same time was ‘about people’, their actions and choices; including women, who had previously been invisible in Australian archaeological writings. Her interest in the way in which we construct or engender the past is reflected in this volume in the contributions by Balme and Bulbeck, Harrison and Gibbs, Lourandos and O’Connor.

Sandra’s early research on coastal middens expanded to include an interest in all aspects of coastal archaeology and particularly the unique conditions imposed for colonisation and use by small offshore islands, as her PhD research in Tasmania on Hunter Island and many subsequent papers on Tasmanian and mainland island occupation exemplify. The paper by Blench reflects her interest in Tasmania and is written in a tone that Sandra would certainly appreciate. An outcome of her ongoing interest in coastal and island archaeology was the Australian Archaeology Conference held at Valla, NSW in 1980 which she and colleagues organised and the subsequently published collection of papers Coastal Archaeology in Eastern Australia (Bowdler 1982). The paper by Sim and Wallis makes a significant contribution on the theme of coastal archaeology and the colonisation of offshore islands.

After leaving her post at the University of New England in 1980, Sandra worked for several years as an archaeological consultant and here also made a significant contribution to Australian archaeology. Sandra brought a new level of professionalism to consulting archaeology. Being up to date with international publications on archaeological survey methodology, sampling design and significance assessment she wrote timely papers on the importance of incorporating such assessments into Australian professional practise in consultancy. Since this time consultancy in Australia has expanded exponentially, particularly in the west, led by the pace of oil and mineral exploration, and has seen record uptake of graduates in archaeology into the consulting market. This expansion is likely to continue for several decades to come and Sandra’s challenging contributions on significance assessment and the imperative to make consultancies relevant to timely research questions, remain as important today as they were at the time of publication. Papers in this volume by Brown and Sullivan on issues of significance assessment reflect on these issues in a contemporary light.

Working as a consultant archaeological brought Sandra face to face with many of the grievances of Aboriginal groups in the face of the heritage process, including those who argued their cultural heritage was being appropriated by academic archaeologists, those who believed that consultation should be more wide ranging and those who believed that the consulting process should employ Aboriginal people to assess questions of significance. These were big issues for archaeologists that made them question the objectivity of concepts such as ‘value’ and ‘significance’, and even whether or not scientific objectivity could be achieved in a consultancy framework which was part of a political process with a development objective at the end of it.  When she took up the position of Professor of archaeology at the University of Western Australia she introduced these issues into mainstream academic teaching and invited Indigenous speakers into the university to present their perspective on the heritage process.

Sandra’s advocacy of the primacy of Indigenous interests in archaeology did not stop with heritage assessment. When the rights of Indigenous people to repaint their sites was questioned by some academics and rock art practitioners following the 1987 Ngaringin Cultural Continuity Project, Sandra took a strong ethical stand arguing that Indigenous rights should take precedence over non-Indigenous national heritage agendas and urging those critical of the NCCP repainting project to ‘ask themselves what is more important, the preservation of a few relics of the recent past, or the active continuation of that living culture?’

Such issues were still being debated at the VI WAC conference in Dublin which the editors recently attended demonstrating that the discipline has some way to go in this area.

A concern with the standards of professional practise also saw Sandra’s involvement on the Aboriginal Cultural Materials Committee of WA whose job it is to advise state government on cultural matters. In this capacity Sandra often pushed to raise the standard of reporting requirements and regulate for minimum qualifications for consultants; moves that were not always popular with those working in consultancy at the time. Today such standards are the norm for survey and reporting in WA.

In the ‘90s Sandra became increasingly interested in the Southeast Asian region, in the colonisation of Sunda and Sahul by modern humans and in comparisons between the material culture of the two regions. This led to comparative study of Pleistocene stone industries of Australia and Southeast Asia and her interest in facets of the Hoabinhian culture complex.  Several of the papers in this collection have resonances that reflect her interest in Southeast Asia, including the papers by O’Connor, Marwick and D. Bulbeck.

Unconventionally for a volume of this type we have included a paper on which Sandra herself is an author (Bulbeck and Bowlder). As Editors we made the decision to include this piece on the grounds that Sandra was rarely conventional, and that the paper was conceived and partly written before this volume was planned so it would have been unreasonable not to acknowledge her authorship. Sandra’s friends and colleagues know that she is unlikely to retire from archaeology, but rather from the more onerous administrative requirements of university life these days, and expect that she will continue to make a contribution to the discipline for many years to come.


Bowdler, S. (ed.), 1982 Coastal Archaeology in Eastern Australia. Canberra: Department of Prehistory, Research School of Pacific Studies, The Australian National University.

Bowdler, S. 1988 Repainting Australian rock art. Antiquity 62:517–523.

Mute or mutable? Archaeological significance, research and cultural heritage management in Australia

Brown 2008 Figure 1

Cumulative number of recorded Aboriginal sites in teh NSW AHIMS Register (published in Australian Archaeology 67:23).

Steve Brown

In the early 1980s, Sandra Bowdler wrote a series of influential papers which proposed a method for archaeological significance assessment and which examined its role in regard to Aboriginal cultural ‘resource’ management, contract archaeology and research in Australia. Some 25 years later, the meaningful application of concepts around ‘representativeness’ and ‘timely and specific research questions’ appear to have all but vanished in the field of Aboriginal heritage management, and research into Australia’s pre-contact past has slowed. The contributing factors to the evolution of this situation are complex: a combination of static legislative and regulatory frameworks within government, unchanging compliance-driven archaeological practice based on a science model and inductive processes and, in contrast, a dynamic and rapidly changing positioning of Aboriginal people’s relationships with their land and heritage. This paper explores issues around the demise of the concept of archaeological value in cultural heritage management. It highlights the tension between the construction of scientific value for archaeological heritage and the social values of tangible heritage constructed by Aboriginal communities in New South Wales.

Engendering Australian and Southeast Asian prehistory… ‘beyond epistemological angst’

Sue O’Connor

Figure 1O'Connor

Watercolour illustration of a group of Aborigines fishing, NSW, ca 1790s, attributed to Philip Gidley King (published in Australian Archaeology 67:88 with permission of the Library Council of New South Wales).

This paper overviews Sandra Bowdler’s unique contribution to engendering Australian and Southeast Asian prehistory using three of her papers as case studies. These include ‘Hook, line and dilly bag’, her study of the New South Wales shell midden, Bass Point; ‘Hunters in the highlands’, in which she examines the role of women’s technology and subsistence choices in enabling exploitation of high altitude regions; and ‘Hoabinhian and non-Hoabinhian’, in which she reviews the geographic and locational distribution of stone artefacts of Hoabinhian type within Australia and Southeast Asia and posits that they may be women’s multipurpose tools. The use of ethnohistory and ethnographic analogy is identified as playing a central role in Bowdler’s interpretations of gender roles and gender identity in the prehistoric record. The ethnohistoric record pertaining to Indigenous women’s hunting, particularly of marine mammals, is also discussed and used to underpin an explanatory model for the location and patterning of faunal remains in the Tasmanian midden, the Stockyard Site.

Northern Australian offshore island use during the Holocene: The archaeology of Vanderlin Island, Sir Edward Pellew Group, Gulf of Carpentaria

Robin Sim and Lynley A. Wallis


Map showing locations of archaeological sites with radiocarbon dates on Vanderlin Island (published in Australian Archaeology 67:97).

This paper presents an overview of archaeological investigations in the Sir Edward Pellew Islands in the southwest Gulf of Carpentaria, northern Australia. It is argued that Vanderlin Island, like the majority of Australia’s offshore islands, attests to a lacuna in human habitation for several thousand years after the marine transgression and consequent insulation c.6700 years ago. With the imminent threat of inundation, people appear to have retreated to higher land, abandoning the peripheral exposed shelf areas; subsequent (re)colonisation of these relict shelf areas in their form as islands took place steadily from c.4200 BP, with increased intensity of occupation after 1300 BP. Possible links between the timing of island occupation, watercraft technology and the role of climate change are investigated, with more recent changes in the archaeological record of Vanderlin Island also examined in light of cultural contact with Macassans.

More unconsidered trifles? Aboriginal and archaeological heritage values: integration and disjuncture in cultural heritage management practice

Sharon Sullivan

In the early 1980s, Sandra Bowdler established a firm foundation for the assessment of archaeological significance and urged the integration of archaeological and Aboriginal values in site assessment, listing and management. This paper describes developments in the integration of archaeological and Aboriginal heritage values, using recent work by Lilley and Williams as an example. The paper then goes on to question whether this progress is reflected in the relatively newly introduced National Heritage listing process (which replaced the Register of the National Estate), taking the listing of rock art on the Dampier Archipelago in Western Australia as a case study.

The paper analyses the values for which the Dampier Archipelago was listed, and the implications of this listing. It concludes that in this case, in large part because of the workings of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, archaeological and Aboriginal values have become separated. It concludes that some of the listing processes seem to be inimical to the melding of these values, now so much a part of Australian and, increasingly, international best practice in cultural heritage management. It also suggests that the method of assessing archaeological values for the National Heritage List and the future impacts on these values does not properly consider the site as an archaeological landscape, and could potentially allow its gradual diminution.

An integrated perspective on the Austronesian diaspora: The switch from cereal agriculture to maritime foraging in the colonisation of Island Southeast Asia

David Bulbeck

This paper reviews the archaeological evidence for maritime interaction spheres in Island Southeast Asia during the Neolithic and preceding millennia. It accepts that cereal agriculture was well-established in Taiwan during the Neolithic but finds minimal evidence for the transmission of agriculture from Taiwan to Island Southeast Asia. Accordingly, the scholarly dispute in early Austronesian culture history between farming and maritime perspectives is deemed to be based on a vacuous opposition. In terms of a foraging/ farming dichotomy, Austronesians’ origins were evidently associated with cereal agriculture in the region of the Taiwan Strait, but their southward expansion was predicated on maritime foraging and trade.

Sandra Bowdler Publications

Sandra Bowdler’s Publications 1971–2007


Bowdler, S. 1983 Aboriginal Sites on the Crown-Timber Lands of New South Wales. Sydney: Forestry Commission of New South Wales.

Bowdler, S. 1984 Hunter Hill, Hunter Island. Terra Australis 8. Canberra: Department of Prehistory, Research School of Pacific Studies, The Australian National University.

Edited Books

Bowdler, S. 1982 (ed.) Coastal Archaeology in Eastern Australia. Collected papers from the 1980 AAA Conference. Canberra: Department of Prehistory, Research School of Pacific Studies, The Australian National University.

Bowdler, S. and S. Sullivan (eds) 1984 Site Surveys and Significance Assessment in Australian Archaeology. Canberra: Department of Prehistory, Research School of Pacific Studies, The Australian National University. 

Refereed Journal and Book Chapters

Bowdler, S. 1971 Balls Head: The excavation of a Port Jackson rockshelter. Records of the Australian Museum 28:117–128.

Bowdler, S. 1974 An account of an archaeological reconnaissance of Hunter’s Isles, northwest Tasmania, 1973/4. Records of the Queen Victoria Museum 54:1–22.

Bowdler, S. 1974 Pleistocene date for man in Tasmania. Nature 252:697–698.

Bowdler, S. 1975 Caves and Aboriginal man. Australian Natural History 18:216–219.

Bowdler, S. 1975 Further radiocarbon dates from Cave Bay Cave, Hunter Island, Northwest Tasmania. Australian Archaeology 3:24–26.

Bowdler, S. 1976 Hook, line and dillybag: An interpretation of an Australian coastal shell midden. Mankind 10:248–258.

Bowdler, S. 1976 Left high and dry. Hemisphere 20(5):29–53.

Bowdler, S. 1977 The coastal colonisation of Australia. In J. Allen, J. Golson and R. Jones (eds), Sunda and Sahul: Prehistoric Studies in Southeast Asia, Melanesia and Australia, pp. 205–246. London: Academic Press.

Bowdler, S. 1980 Fish and culture: A Tasmanian polemic. Mankind 12:334–340.

Bowdler, S. 1980 Hunters and farmers in the Hunter Islands: Aboriginal and European land-use of northwest Tasmanian islands in the historical period. Records of the Queen Victoria Museum 70.

Bowdler, S. 1981 Hunters in the highlands: Aboriginal adaptations in the eastern Australian uplands. Archaeology in Oceania 16:99–111.

Bowdler, S. 1981 The prehistory of the Tasmanian Aborigines: Results of recent archaeological research. The Tasmanian Yearbook 15:6–15.

Bowdler, S. 1981 Stone tools, style and function: Some evidence from the Stockyard Site, Hunter Island. Archaeology in Oceania 16:64–69.

Bowdler, S. 1981 Unconsidered trifles? Cultural resource management, environmental impact statements and archaeological research in New South Wales. Australian Archaeology 12:123–133.

Bowdler, S. and J. Coleman 1981 The Aboriginal people of the New England tablelands: Ethnohistory and archaeology.  Armidale and District Historical Society Journal 24:11–26.

Bowdler, S. 1982 Archaeology: The happy hooker? Australian Anthropological Society Newsletter 16:27–30.

Bowdler, S. 1982 Prehistoric archaeology in Tasmania.  In F. Wendorf and A.E. Close (eds), Advances in World Archaeology 1, pp.1–49. New York: Academic Press.

Bowdler, S. 1982 Valla madness. In S. Bowdler (ed.), Coastal Archaeology in Eastern Australia, pp.v–ix. Canberra: Department of Prehistory, Research School of Pacific Studies, The Australian National University.

Bowdler, S. and H. Lourandos 1982 Both sides of Bass Strait. In S. Bowdler (ed.), Coastal Archaeology in Eastern Australia, pp.121–132.  Canberra: Department of Prehistory, Research School of Pacific Studies, The Australian National University.

Bowdler, S. 1983 Beyond the Hydro-Majestic: A commissioned report on Aboriginal sites for a landscape study of the Megalong, Kanimbla and Hartley Valleys, New South Wales. In M. Smith (ed.), Archaeology at ANZAAS 1983, pp.329–349. Perth: Western Australian Museum.

Bowdler, S. 1983 Rainforest: Colonised or coloniser? Australian Archaeology 17:59–66.

Bowdler, S. 1983 Sieving seashells: Midden analysis in Australia archaeology. In G.E. Connah (ed.), Australian Archaeology: A Guide to Field Techniques (5th ed.), pp.135–144. Canberra: Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies.

Bowdler, S. 1984 Archaeological significance as a mutable quality. In S. Sullivan and S. Bowdler (eds), Site Surveys and Significance Assessment in Australian Archaeology, pp.1–9. Canberra: Department of Prehistory, Research School of Pacific Studies, The Australian National University.

Bowdler, S. 1984 Land use before white settlement. In M. Booth and C. Lendon (eds), Western Australia: Its Land, Its Future, pp.13–18. Perth: ANZAAS.

Bowdler, S. 1984–5 Reconciling archaeological and Aboriginal interests in the protection of sites. Anthropological Forum 5:403–413.

Bowdler, S. 1986 Artefacts and their cultural context: Some reflections on ethnographic collections and the Bicentennial. ICCM Bulletin 12:105–112.

Bowdler, S. 1986 Recent directions in Tasmanian prehistory and the role of cultural resource management. Australian Archaeology 23:1–10.

Bowdler, Sandra 1987 The future of the past in the west: Research directions in Western Australian archaeology. Australian Archaeology 25:6–9.

Bowdler, S.  and L. Ryan 1987 Southeast Tasmania: The Nuenonne in 1788. In J. Mulvaney and J.P. White (eds), Australians to 1788, pp.309–329. Sydney: Fairfax, Syme and Weldon Associates.

Bowdler, S. 1988 Recent developments in environmental analysis in the Old and New Worlds: An antipodean perspective. In R.E. Webb (ed.), Recent Developments in Environmental analysis in Old and New World Archaeology, pp.85–95. Oxford: BAR International Series.

Bowdler, S. 1988 Repainting Australian rock art. Antiquity 62:517–523.

Bowdler, S. 1988 Tasmanian Aborigines in the Hunter Islands in the Holocene:  Island resource use and seasonality. In G. Bailey and J. Parkington (eds), The Archaeology of Prehistoric Coastlines, pp.42–52. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Bowdler, S. 1989 The archaeology of Aboriginal society. In L.H. Schmitt, L. Freedman and N.W. Bruce (eds), The Growing Scope of Human Biology, pp. 179–186. Proceedings of the Australasian Society of Human Biology 2. Perth: Centre for Human Biology, University of Western Australia.

Bowdler, S. 1989 A preliminary appraisal [of cultural resources]. In K. Bradby (ed.), A Park in Perspective, pp.49–53. Ravensthorpe: Fitzgerald River National Park Association.

Bowdler, S. 1990 Archaeological research in the Shark Bay region: An introductory account. In P.F. Berry. S.D. Bradshaw and B.R. Wilson (eds), Research in Shark Bay: Report of the France-Australia Bicentenary Expedition Committee, pp.1–12. Perth: Western Australian Museum.

Bowdler, S. 1990 Before Dirk Hartog: Prehistoric archaeological research in Shark Bay, Western Australia. Australian Archaeology 30:46–57.

Bowdler, S. 1990 Peopling Australasia: The ‘coastal colonisation’ hypothesis reconsidered. In P. Mellars (ed.), The Human Revolution: Behavioural and Biological Perspectives on the Origins of Modern Humans, pp.327–343. Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh Press.

Bowdler, S. 1990 The Silver Dollar Site, Shark Bay:  An interim report. Australian Aboriginal Studies 1990(2):60–63.

Bowdler, S. and S. O’Connor 1991 The dating of the Australian Small Tool Tradition, with new evidence from the Kimberley, WA. Australian Aboriginal Studies 1991(1):53–62.

Bowdler, S., L. Strawbridge and M. Schwede 1991 Archaeological mitigation in the Perth Metropolitan Region. Australian Archaeology 32:21–25.

Bowdler, S. 1992 Homo sapiens in Southeast Asia and the Antipodes: Archaeological vs biological interpretations. In T. Akazawa, K. Aoki and T. Kimura (eds), The Evolution and Dispersal of Modern Humans in Asia, pp.559–589. Tokyo: Hokusen-sha.

Bowdler, S. 1992 The ICOMOS approach to the archaeological resource. Historic Environment 9(3):20–22.

Bowdler, S. 1992 Unquiet slumbers:  The return of the Kow Swamp burials. Antiquity 66:103–106.

Bowdler, S. 1993 Asian origins. In G. Evans (ed.), Asia’s Cultural Mosaic. pp.30–62. Singapore: Prentice Hall.

Bowdler, S. 1993 The earliest Australian stone tools and implications for Southeast Asia.  Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association Bulletin 12:10–22.

Bowdler, S. 1993 The evolution of modern humans, Homo sapiens sapiens, in east Asia: Implications of archaeological evidence from Australia and Southeast Asia.  In N. Jablonski (ed.), The Palaeoenvironment of East Asia from the mid-Tertiary: Proceedings of the Third Conference, pp.301–314.  Hong Kong: Centre of Asian Studies, University of Hong Kong.

Bowdler,  S. 1993 Sunda and Sahul: A 30KYR BP culture area?  In M.A. Smith, M. Spriggs and B. Fankhauser (eds), Sahul in ReviewPleistocene Archaeology in Australia, New Guinea and Island Melanesia, pp.60–70. Occasional Papers in Prehistory 24. Canberra: Department of Prehistory, Research School of Pacific Studies, The Australian National University.

Bowdler, S. 1993 Views of the past in Australian Prehistory. In M. Spriggs, D. E. Yen, W. Ambrose, R. Jones, A. Thorne and A. Andrews (eds), A Community of Culture: The People and Prehistory of the Pacific, pp.123–138. Canberra: Department of Prehistory, Research School of Pacific Studies, The Australian National University.

Bowdler, S. 1994 The Hoabinhian in Australia: A retrospective review. Vietnam Social Sciences 5(43):87–94.

Bowdler, S. 1994 Ky nghe Hoabinhian o Australia: Lich su khai luoc. Khao Co Hoc 3:79–87.

Bowdler, S. 1994 Permeating the bamboo curtain: Fred McCarthy’s interesting questions. In M. Sullivan, S. Brockwell and A. Webb (eds), Archaeology in the North: Proceedings of the 1993 Australian Archaeological Association Conference, pp.30–39. Darwin: North Australia Research Unit, The Australian National University.

Bowdler, S. 1995 The excavation of two small rockshelters at Monkey Mia, Shark Bay, WA.  Australian Archaeology 40:1–13.

Bowdler, S. 1995 Needs and priorities for the conservation of Aboriginal places of cultural significance. In S. Sullivan (ed.), Cultural Conservation: Towards a National Approach, pp.349–356. Special Australian Heritage Publication Series 9. Canberra: Australian Heritage Commission, Australian Government Publishing Service.

Bowdler, S. 1995 Offshore islands and maritime explorations in Australian prehistory.  Antiquity 69:945–958.

Bowdler, S. 1996 Cultural Paradigms for change in Australian prehistory.  In S. Ulm, I. Lilley and A. Ross (eds), Australian Archaeology ’95. Proceedings of the 1995 Australian Archaeological Association Annual Conference, pp.23–29. Tempus 6. St Lucia: Anthropology Museum, The University of Queensland.

Bowdler, S. 1996 Freud and archaeology.  Anthropological Forum 7:419–438.

Bowdler, S. 1996 The human colonisation of Sunda and Sahul:  cultural and behavioural considerations. Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association Bulletin 14:37–42.

Bowdler, S. and S. McGann 1996 Prehistoric fishing at Shark Bay, Western Australia. In M.G. Plew (ed.), Prehistoric Hunter-Gatherer Fishing Strategies, pp.84–113.  Boise: Boise State University.

Bowdler, S. 1997 Building on Each other’s Myths: Archaeology and linguistics in Australia.  In P. McConvell and N. Evans (eds), Archaeology and Linguistics: Aboriginal Australia in Global Perspective, pp.17–26. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Bowdler, S. 1997 The Pleistocene Pacific in D. Denoon, ‘Human settlement’. In D. Denoon (ed.), The Cambridge History of the Pacific Islander, pp.41–50. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Jablonski, N.G. and S. Bowdler 1997 Pre-contact human skeletal remains from Useless Loop, Western Australia. Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia 80:249–254.

Cooper, Z. and S. Bowdler 1998 Flaked glass tools from the Andaman Islands and Australia. Asian Perspectives 37:74–83.

Bowdler, S. 1999 Aquatic apes and littoral lifestyles. In J. Hall and I. McNiven (eds), Australian Coastal Archaeology, pp.7–9. Canberra: ANH Publications, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, The Australian National University.

Bowdler, S. 1999 Research at Shark Bay, WA, and the nature of coastal adaptations in Australia. In J. Hall and I. McNiven (eds), Australian Coastal Archaeology, pp.79–84. Canberra: ANH Publications, , Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, The Australian National University.

Bowdler, S. and J. Smith 1999 Identifying style in Australian stone artefacts: An attempt to provide a theoretical basis. Australian Archaeology 49:1–6.

Bowdler, S. and G. Clune 2000 That shadowy band: The role of women in the development of Australian archaeology. Australian Archaeology 50:27–35.

Bowdler, S. 2001 The last typologist: Rhys Jones and the problem of the archaeologists.  In A. Anderson, I. Lilley and S. O’Connor (eds), Histories of Old Ages: Essays in Honour of Rhys Jones, pp.35–44. Canberra: Pandanus Books, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, The Australian National University.

Bowdler, S. 2001 The management of Indigenous ceremonial (‘bora’) sites as components of cultural landscapes. In M.M. Cotter, W.E. Boyd and J.E. Gardiner (eds),  Heritage Landscapes: Understanding Place and Communities, pp.237–264. Lismore: Southern Cross University Press.

Bowdler, S. 2002 Hunters and traders in northern Australia. In K.D. Morrison and L.L. Junker (eds), Forager-Traders in South and Southeast Asia: Long Term Histories, pp. 167–184. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Bowdler, S. and D. Tan 2003 A comparison of stone industries from Southeast Asia and Australia: Some preliminary results. In A. Karlström and A. Källén (eds), Fishbones and Glittering Emblems: Southeast Asian Archaeology 2002, pp.37–48. Stockholm: Museum of Far Eastern.

Bowdler, S. 2005 Movement, exchange and the ritual life in southeastern Australia. In I. Macfarlane, R. Paton and M.J. Mountain (eds), Many Exchanges: Archaeology, History, Community and the Work of Isabel McBryde, pp.131–146. Aboriginal History Monograph 11. Canberra: Aboriginal History.

Bowdler, S. 2006 Mollusks and other shells. In J. Balme and A.G. Paterson (eds), Archaeology in Practice: A Student Guide to Archaeological Analyses, pp.316–337. Malden: Blackwell Publishing.

Bowdler, S. 2006 Harry Lourandos’ life and work: An Australian archaeological odyssey. In B. David, B. Barker and I.M. McNiven (eds), The Social Archaeology of Indigenous Australia, pp.40–49. Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press.

Bowdler, S. 2006 The Hoabinhian: Early evidence for SE Asian trade networks? In E.A. Bacus, I.C. Glover and V.C. Piggott (eds), Uncovering Southeast Asia’s Past ? Selected Papers from the Tenth Biennial Conference of the European Association of Southeast Asian Archaeologists, London, 14th–17th September 2004, pp.355–359. Singapore: National University Press.

Balme, J. and S. Bowdler 2006 Spear and digging stick. The origin of gender and its implications for the colonisation of new continents. Journal of Social Archaeology 6:379–401.

Bowdler, S. 2007 Dealing with diversity: Advantages and disadvantages in archaeological views of national identity. In M. Saidin and S. Chia (eds), Proceedings of the International Seminar on Archaeology and Nation Building, pp.66–71. Penang: Pusat Penyelidikan Archeologi Malaysia, Universiti Sains Malaysia.

Encyclopaedia Entries

Bowdler, S.  2004  Australia pp.875–879; Arnhem, Terra di p.895; Burrill Lake pp.903–904; Canguri,  Isola dei pp.904–905; Cape York pp.905–906; Carpenter’s Gap pp.908; Cave Bay Cave p.909; Cossack p.913; Cuddie Springs pp.913–914; Devil’s Lair p.914; Devon  Downs pp.914–915; Early Man Site pp.915–916; Fromm’s Landing p.919; Groote  Eylandt p.919; Ingaladdi pp.924–925; Keilor pp.926–927; Kenniff Cave p.927; Kimberley p.929; Koonalda Cave pp.930–931;  Kow Swamp p.931;  Lake Nitchie p.933;  Lancefield pp.933–934;  Lapstone Creek p.937;  Maccassaresi pp.938–939;  Malakunanja II p.940;  Malangangerr pp.940–941;  Miriwun pp.947–948;  Mungo, Lake pp.950–951;  Nauwalabila I (Lindner) pp.952–953;  Ngarrabulgan (Nurrabullgin) pp.954–955;  Puntutjarpa pp.968–969;  Puritjarra p.969;  Riwi p.973;  Rocky Cape p.973;  Roonka pp.973–974;  Tasmania pp.981–982;  Upper Swan p.986.  Enciclopedia Archeologica. Americhe – Oceania.  Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana, Rome.

Bowdler, S. 2008 History of archaeology in Western Australia.  In J. Gregory and J. Gothard (eds), Historical Encyclopedia of Western Australia. Crawley: University of Western Australia Press.

Bowdler, S. 2008 Pre-agricultural peoples. In D.M. Pearsall (ed.), Encyclopaedia of Archaeology, pp.809–818. San Diego: Elsevier/Academic Press.

Reviews, Comments etc.

Bowdler, S. 1973 Review of Lois Brauer Gover Anthropology for Our Times. Mankind 9:160.

Bowdler, S. 1978 Review of Janet Matthews The Two Worlds of Jimmie Barker.  Armidale and District Historical Society Journal 21:12.

Bowdler, S. 1981 Review of Richard Gould Living Archaeology. Mankind 13:98–99.

Bowdler, S. 1981 Comment on Brian Hayden, ‘Research and development in the Stone Age: Technological transitions among hunter-gatherers’. Current Anthropology 22:531.

Bowdler, S. 1981 Comment on Douglas G. Sutton, ‘Towards the recognition of convergent cultural adaptation in the Subantarctic zone’. Current Anthropology 23:87–88.

Bowdler, S. 1983 A White prehistory: Review of J.P. White and J.F. O’Connell A Prehistory of Australia, New Guinea and Sahul. Australian Archaeology 16:153–156.

Bowdler, S. 1983 Review of Frank P. Dickson Australian Stone Hatchets: A Study in Design and Dynamics. Australian Archaeology 16:153–156.

Bowdler, S. 1983 The race that survived: Review of Lyndall Ryan The Aboriginal Tasmanians. Hemisphere 27(6):354–357.

Bowdler, S. 1983 Review of Betty Meehan Shell Bed to Shell Midden. Archaeology in Oceania 18:110–111.

Bowdler, S. 1983 Review of R.M. Berndt (eds) Aboriginal Sites, Rights and Resource Development. Aboriginal History 7:222–224.

Bowdler, S. 1983 Review of R.L. Kirk Aboriginal Man Adapting. Mankind 13:552–553.

Bowdler, S. 1984 Review of Diane Bell Daughters of the Dreaming. Australian Archaeology 19:116–117.

Bowdler, S. 1984 Review of Carmel Schrire The Alligator Rivers: Prehistory and Ecology in Western Arnhem Land. Mankind 14:412–413.

Bowdler, S. 1985 Review of R. Vanderwal and D. Horton Coastal Southwest Tasmania: The Prehistory of Louisa Bay and Maatsuyker Island. Australian Archaeology 20:109–113.

Bowdler, S. 1988 Review of Peter Ucko Academic Freedom and Apartheid:  the Story of the World Archaeological Congress. Australian Archaeology 26:114–117.

Bowdler, S. 1988 Review of Marek Zvelebil (eds), Hunters in Transition: Mesolithic Societies of Temperate Eurasia and the Transition to Farming. Mankind 18:49–50.

Bowdler, S.  1988 Review of Clive Gamble The Palaeolithic Settlement of Europe. Archaeology in Oceania 23:38–40.

Bowdler, S. 1988 Review of Vivienne Rae-Ellis Black Robinson: Protector of Aborigines. Anthropological Forum 5:575–576.

Bowdler, S. 1989 Comment on Michael J. Schott, ‘Diversity, organisation and behaviour in the material record’. Current Anthropology 30:301–302.

Bowdler, S. 1989 Review of ‘Dreamtime to Dust: Australia’s Fragile Environment’, an exhibition at the Australian Museum, Sydney. Australian Archaeology 28:107–110.

Bowdler, S. 1989 Australian colonisation – a comment. Search 20:173.

Bowdler, S. 1989 Review of Vivienne Rae Ellis Trucanini: Queen or Traitor?  Anthropological Forum 6:117–118.

Bowdler, S. 1990 Review of H.L. Dibble and A. Montet-White (eds), Upper Pleistocene Prehistory of Western Eurasia. Antiquity 64:428–429.

Bowdler, S. 1990 Comment on T.F. Flannery, ‘Pleistocene faunal loss: implications of the aftershock for Australia’s past and future’. Archaeology in Oceania 25:61–63.

Bowdler, S. 1990  What are museum staff paid for? A response to Richard Robins.  Australian Archaeology 30:72–74.

Bowdler, S. 1990 50,000 year–old site in Australia – is it really that old? Australian Archaeology 31:93.

Bowdler, S. 1990 J.B. Cleland and Aboriginal studies. Olive Pink Society Bulletin 2(2):25.

Bowdler, S. 1991 Comment on Colin Pardoe, ‘Isolation and evolution in Tasmania’. Current Anthropology 32:12–13.

Bowdler, S. 1991 Review of Atholl Anderson, Prodigious Birds: Moas and Moa–Hunting in Prehistoric New Zealand. Archaeology in Oceania 26:29.

Bowdler, S. 1991 Some sort of dates at Malakunanja II: A reply to Roberts et al. Australian Archaeology 32:50–51.

Bowdler, S.  1991/1992 Review of Roger Lewin Bones of Contention: Controversies in the Search for Human Origins. Anthropological Forum 6:448–449.

Bowdler, S. 1993 Review of John Dodson (ed.) The Naive Lands: Prehistory and Environmental Change in Australia and the South-West Pacific. Australian Archaeology 37:67.

Bowdler, S. 1993 Review of David Horton Recovering the Tracks: The Story of Australian Archaeology. Australian Archaeology 37:68.

Bowdler, S. 1995 Letter to the Editors re Roberts et al. 1993. Australian Archaeology 40:67.

Bowdler, S. 1996 Review of Peter Gathercole, T.H. Irving and G. Melleuish (eds) Childe and Australia: Archaeology, Politics and Ideas. Historic Environment 12(1):18–19.

Bowdler, S. 1997 Review of Jim Allen (ed.) Report of the Southern Forests Archaeological Project. Volume 1. Archaeology in Oceania 32:216–217.

Bowdler, S. 1997 Review of Jim Allen and J.F. O’Connell (eds), Transitions: Pleistocene to Holocene in Australia and Papua New Guinea (Antiquity special ed.). Australian Archaeology 44:69–70.

Bowdler, S. 1997 Review of Carmel Schrire Digging Through Darkness. Anthropological Forum 7:725–727.

Bowdler, S. 2004 Review of Keith Windschuttle The Fabrication of Aboriginal History: Van Diemen’s Land 1803–1847. Australian Archaeology 59:69–70.

Dynamics of dispersion revisited? Archaeological context and the study of Aboriginal knapped glass artefacts in Australia

Figure5Gibbs and Harrison

Knapped glass artefact scatter showing remains of worker’s cottages (published in Australian Archaeology 67:64).

Martin Gibbs and Rodney Harrison

The archaeological study of Aboriginal knapped glass artefacts in Australia has focused almost entirely on glass tool production, and more particularly, on the technology of glass tool production (as opposed, for example, to the social context of glass tool production). In this paper, we suggest the value of an approach which foregrounds context in an attempt to point towards new directions for knapped glass artefact studies in Australia. We make reference to qualitative field observations of Aboriginal knapped glass artefacts located on early copper and lead mining settlements from mid-Western Australia, and return to pioneering work done by Denis Byrne in the same region on silcrete artefacts to illustrate our argument. In doing so, we note the ways in which these studies demonstrate historically changing approaches to the archaeological record by archaeologists from the University of Western Australia, and our own work as Sandra Bowdler’s students in the late 1980s and late 1990s respectively.

Constructing ‘hunter-gatherers’, constructing ‘prehistory’: Australia and New Guinea

Harry Lourandos

This paper considers the ways ‘hunter-gatherers’ have been constructed in Australian archaeology, how these have changed through time, and why a rather different approach has been taken in New Guinea archaeology. The underlying ‘traditional’ approach or paradigm in Australian archaeology is discussed, along with its critics, and the ways these tensions have played themselves out over the years, to influence the creation of ‘prehistory’.

Engendering origins: theories of gender in sociology and archaeology

Jane Balme and Chilla Bulbeck

Feminist knowledge and its impact on other academic disciplines arose in the 1970s, but it has had an uneven impact in different disciplines. We argue that gender as a theoretical concept has challenged both sociology and archaeology but analyses of gender practices and embodiment which challenge the homogenous categories of ‘women’ and ‘men’ have made much less impact in archaeology – particularly the archaeology of deep time. The paper concludes by suggesting that feminist archaeology’s exploration of the origins of gender offers critical insights concerning the ways in which feminist sociologists define their theories with and against the ‘Western folk model’ of sex and gender.

Three styles of Darwinian evolution in the analysis of stone artefacts: Which one to use in mainland Southeast Asia?

Ben Marwick


Our understanding of flaked stone artefacts from assemblages in mainland Southeast Asia is constrained by a shortage of robust and flexible theory to generate suitable methods of analysis. I review three candidate theories derived from Darwinian evolutionary principles to identify the most suitable for investigating flaked stone artefacts from mainland Southeast Asia. The demands of the theory are compared with the evidential constraints of the assemblages. Human behavioural ecology is found to be the most suitable because of the reliable methods available to test predictions with artefact assemblages. A small case study is discussed to demonstrate the applicability of this approach.

An Analysis of Flaked Stone Artefacts from Kutikina Cave, Southwest Tasmania, Australia


Jennifer Burch

BArch(Hons), Archaeology Program, School of Historical and European Studies, La TrobeUniversity, October 2007

It has long been argued that the late Pleistocene archaeological records of southwest Tasmanian sites are highly patterned and reflect a long-lasting and regionally-restricted behavioural ‘system’. In a recent analysis of flaked stone artefacts at BoneCave, Holdaway (2004) concluded that there was little evidence for technological or typological change over a period of some 20,000 years. Although changes in patterns of raw material use are linked by Holdaway (2004) to shifts in mobility patterns, the results of the Bone Cave analysis encouraged retention of the concept of a distinctive southwest Tasmanian ‘archaeological signature’. However, the impact of scale, resolution, and sampling on the behavioural information that can be generated from these assemblages has received little attention. It is possible that rather than reflecting behaviour, the uniformity seen at BoneCave is simply the result of shallow, conflated deposits, the use of large analytical units representing long time spans, and the analysis of small assemblages excavated from spatially-restricted deposits. To examine these issues, this project investigated late Pleistocene flaked stone artefacts from KutikinaCave (previously FraserCave) and compared these with the stone assemblages from BoneCave.

The thesis presents a systematic analysis of a portion of the KutikinaCave stone assemblage, investigating patterns of change and continuity through time in raw material use, technology and the types of artefacts produced. Results indicate that there were changes over time in the way that raw materials were used, the way cores were reduced and in the types of tools produced. Stone assemblages dating to between c.17,000 BP and c.15,000 BP at KutikinaCave are compared to those excavated from chronologically commensurate deposits at BoneCave to examine regional variability within the southwest system. The thesis concludes that the differences between the KutikinaCave and BoneCave stone assemblages are likely to be a function of the ‘telephone box’ style excavations necessitated by the extreme richness of archaeological deposits in southwest Tasmanian cave sites. The analysis of the KutikinaCave stone assemblage indicates that the archaeological record of southwest Tasmania is highly variable.


Holdaway, S. 2004 Report of the Southern Forests Archaeological Project: Continuity and Change: An Investigation of the Flaked Stone Artefacts from the Pleistocene Deposits at Bone Cave, Southwest Tasmania, Australia. Volume 2. Bundoora: Archaeology Program, School of Historical and European Studies, La TrobeUniversity.


Unfinished Business: The Lower Murray Lakes Archaeological Study within an Historical and Political Context

Kelly D. Wiltshire

BArch(Hons), Department of Archaeology, FlindersUniversity, October 2006

Once the site of Australia’s first systematic excavation at Devon Downs, South Australia has seen a dynamic shift in the conduct of archaeological work in the past 20 years, from a concentration on archaeological research to a preoccupation with heritage management. This thesis explores the relationship between archaeological research and Indigenous heritage legislation by considering their political contexts and how this has influenced the practice of archaeology in South Australia. The premise of this thesis is set within the context of a case study, the Lower Murray Lakes Archaeological Study (LMLAS), conducted by archaeologist Roger Luebbers during the mid-1980s along the shores of LakeAlexandrina. This case study is considered within an historical context to examine how issues and debates within Australian archaeology influenced Luebbers’ research agenda. Additionally, this case study is used as a specific example to illustrate the outcomes of its political context. Finally, this study explores contemporary issues faced by the Ngarrindjeri Nation as a result of the context in which the LMLAS was conducted.

By retrospectively examining Aboriginal heritage protection in South Australia, with a focus on the Aboriginal and Historic Relics Preservation Act 1965, the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1979 and the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1988, this research contributes an in-depth written account exploring the history of Indigenous heritage legislation in South Australia, while demonstrating how a lack of government will and poor administration policies have lead to the insufficient management of Indigenous heritage.

Review of ‘Landscapes, Rock Art and the Dreaming: An Archaeology of Preunderstanding’ by Bruno David

Murray book review cover AA66Landscapes, Rock Art and the Dreaming: An Archaeology of Preunderstanding by Bruno David, Leicester University Press, London, 2002, xiii+235 pp., ISBN 07185-0243-4.

Tim Murray

Archaeology Program, School of Historical and European Studies, La Trobe University, Bundoora Vic. 3086, Australia

Landscapes, Rock-Art and the Dreaming: An Archaeology of Preunderstanding (LRD) seeks to encapsulate David’s views about the social archaeology of Holocene pre-European Australia, while situating itself within a stream of discourse about history, anthropology and the Other. In seeking to undertake an archaeology of the Dreaming, David gives us his take on a range of issues that were core to post-processualism during the late 1990s when that approach began to morph into more generalised post-colonialist (as distinct from generally post-modern) discourse. Along the way LRD imparts information about rock art (especially arguments about its regionalisation in Cape York), the archaeology of Ngarrabullgan and adjacent sites, the archaeology of Dreaming rituals among the Arrente, the antiquity of seed-grinding in Australia, and a rehearsal of now quite conventional arguments for the development of more complex social relations in late Holocene Australia that span the scalar gamut from the pan-continental to the micro-regional.

All of this adds up to an ambitious agenda, made all the more so by David’s attempts to move discussion of core aspects of how Aboriginal people and their lives are understood away from timeless essences towards conceptual frameworks that stress dynamism, contingency, heterogeneity, and agency. Calls for ‘history’ and attacks on essentialism in Australian archaeology are not novel, but the linking of such perspectives with arguments about trends towards social complexity in late Holocene Australia is a new twist. The bulk of the conceptual apparatus is derived from standard post-processual positions of the 1990s with a few idiosyncratic elaborations, especially Gadamer’s reading of ‘preunderstanding’.

LRD is not an easy read. It is densely written: repetitive, discursive, and much concerned with self-conscious ‘internal’ dialogue. Its philosophical and methodological apparatus (especially its focus on landscapes) is expounded with more passion than clarity, and there is a strong tendency to discuss complex conceptual matters in terms of big monolithic blocks of discourse as if they are philosophically unambiguous – when precisely the opposite is the case. When linked with David’s method of working from present to past, and seeking in the past states that explain the present (by virtue of their being antecedent to it), this leads to a strong logical circularity, especially the fallacy of affirming the consequent. Nowhere is this more apparent than in David’s discussion of the Dreaming.

For David, LRD is about using the archaeology of the Dreaming as a vehicle for exploring Western constructions of Aboriginality, and of continuing arguments against what he (and others) has identified as a damaging focus in Australian archaeology on matters environmental and ecological. Broadening focus to a concern with the lives of people in all their complexity has the potential to consider archaeological phenomena not just as evidence of subsistence or of environmental change, but as key documents for writing social history. Another element of the story is an attack on the ‘timeless Aborigine’, of the ethnographic present being retrodicted millennia into the human history of Australia, so that social archaeologists might populate its past with ‘real’ people. The pitfalls of this type of analogical reasoning have been as widely canvassed as its potential to enhance understanding.

David is at pains to stress his desire to tell a different story, one of heterogeneity and dynamism. Of course, ever since Mulvaney, even archaeologists of a positivist or environmental bent have accepted the reality of change during the human history of Australia, whether it be in technological or environmental contexts, or geographical distribution. By the same token they have also had to grapple with the power of the present as setting the exemplar of how the Aboriginal past is to be understood, thereby establishing the inferential power of the ‘timeless Aborigine’. Significantly, creating an image of what pre-European Aboriginal societies were like that does not privilege those images created by ethnography in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, poses very difficult problems for Australian archaeologists of whatever persuasion. The reality of dynamism and transformation, of heterogeneity as distinct from homogeneity, and of change resulting from a wide range of variables (whether or not they are classed as social or environmental), requires us to develop plausible frameworks for demonstrating the social history of pre-European Australia that embrace the instability of the concepts and categories we use to understand the present.

LRD, despite its constant hype about undermining of ways of looking at the world, does not succeed in doing this. Of course making an argument that everything (even the Dreamtime), has a history requires more than simple assertion. While we might be sympathetic to the idea that worldviews change and that those in any part of Australia were not homogenous at contact, nor were they unchanging since the first settlement of Sahul tens of millennia ago, developing this perspective into something we can get our theoretical teeth into requires more than frankly risible notions of preunderstanding. This entirely begs the question of the archaeological content of a concept like the Dreaming (or indeed of ‘preunderstanding’), which is most assuredly not answered by comments such as: ‘Aboriginal knowledge was always founded on a prior truth steeped in the Dreaming’ (p.4).

In David’s hands, the Dreaming begins to look like it has all the archaeological virtues and vices of a concept like culture, perhaps the grand-daddy of all usefully ambiguous concepts. David has this to say: ‘Because things are meaningful, people engage with their world in culturally patterned ways. Objects are engaged through historically and culturally ordered behaviour, resulting in an ordered archaeological signature that is the mark of preunderstanding’ (p.7).

But if all is in flux, what can be identified, what can be analysed? David appreciates that there is a significant problem here:

The way in which interpretation and understanding are mediated by preunderstanding is thus an expression of specific relations between the engaging object in an already meaningful world, and the interpreting subject. These relations are never fixed; they are continuously in a state of becoming. As human identity is constructed through engagement, so too is human identity in a continual state of change. As a result, both interpretation and preunderstanding are in constant state of flux, being redefined by the co-engagement of experiencing and communicating agents and objects through time. It is in the nature of such relations between people and their engaged material world that an archaeology of preunderstanding, ‘mind’ and human identity can take place (p.8).

Though this is tricked up as habitus in David’s exposition, it is still culture, and it still requires us to freeze a dynamic set of interactions between people, things and the world in which they live into something that can be observed and analysed in cultural terms.

Thus the goal of capturing dynamism in this way requires David to make things static. And we haven’t even got to the point of discussing the ways in which this kind of approach can be plausibly operationalised archaeologically, where significant issues related to the structural properties of archaeological records as records of human action exist. If archaeological sites (especially those of the pre-European past in Australia) are frequently palimpsests of aggregations of samples of human action, then it requires us to be properly sceptical of approaches that read back from an ethnographic present as if this warranted the assumption of there being pretty straightforward correspondences between archaeological and ethnographic observables.

Thus establishing the antiquity of the Dreaming is a far more problematic business than asserting that all cultural data of the last 1500 years or so were the product of a cultural context glossed as ‘the Dreaming’, and that cultural data from periods antecedent to that were the products of ‘preunderstanding’. I don’t want to labour this point for too much longer, but the circularity (and inherent instability) of this kind of reasoning should at least be recognised. But this does not seem to concern David:

Sometimes the Dreaming as we know it today will be implicated in the material products of past human behaviour in Australia; at other times it will not be. Whether or not the Dreaming we know from ethnography will be implicated in more ancient times will depend on whether or not past behavioural conventions and their operative contexts are recognized to have been akin to those of recent times. My objective is not to retrieve the experience of past meaningful landscapes, but to track back in time the antiquity of the recent Dreaming’s ordered material expressions to identify its historical emergence (p.8-9, original emphasis).

I have no doubt that that there will be archaeologists, anthropologists and historians who will be attracted by LRD and its attempts to historicise a conceptual will-o-the-wisp like the Dreaming. Certainly the notion that the Aboriginal world of the ethnographies cannot be assumed to have been the product of timeless, unchanging, essences is worth rehearsing again. But dealing with the consequences of this invocation of dynamism and change (both for archaeology and anthropology) requires a great deal more theoretical development and philosophical clarity than we see here. The proposal that we track back from present to past is as old as the earliest prehistories of Lubbock and John Evans. The fear that by doing this we run the risk of making the past an eternal ethnographic present is of similar antiquity. In this sense it does not advance us by simply asserting that the Dreaming was a conceptual milieu that ordered the material things recovered by archaeologists. While this might have some limited validity in the analysis of rock art, it is highly dubious when applied to other archaeological manifestations.

Review of ‘Inauthentic Archaeologies: Public Uses and Abuses of the Past’ by Troy Lovata

Gojak book review cover AA66Inauthentic Archaeologies: Public Uses and Abuses of the Past by Troy Lovata, Left Coast Press, Walnut Creek, CA, 2007, 168 pp., ISBN 978-1-59874-011-0.

Denis Gojak

Banksia Heritage + Archaeology, PO Box 457, Newtown NSW 2042, Australia

Most archaeologists have their own favourite inauthentic archaeology, whether it is Indiana Jones’s or Lara Croft’s exploits, sewer vents shaped like ancient Egyptian obelisks, Stonehenges made from Cadillacs or a secret fascination with claims for Egyptian pyramids in Queensland. Part of our assimilation into a professional culture involves becoming intuitively aware of what is ‘IN’ and what is ‘OUT’ as far as archaeology goes. Most of us are clear-cut on what constitutes legitimate archaeology and therefore we should not have much of a problem deciding what is not legitimate or authentic. In this useful book Troy Lovata challenges the idea that such a demarcation between authentic and inauthentic archaeology is straightforward and a simple matter of crossing a threshold. He further argues that the professional archaeology community needs to become more involved in understanding what happens with the many uses of archaeology that are not directly controlled by archaeologists.

The book is written for undergraduates as an introduction to the idea that archaeology also exists outside the boundary of the professional domain. Each chapter is self-contained, with a bibliography and a page of critical questions and class exercises. The case studies are broad-ranging – the Piltdown fake (which is told in cartoon form), a modern recreation of an Anasazi cliff-dwelling, torreons (cylindrical Spanish towers) in the American southwest, the work of three artists who incorporate archaeology into their work and a final chapter on fake henges and Easter Islandmoai. Each case study looks at one or more aspects of the boundary issue, and the case studies present increasingly complicated situations. The deliberate hoax of Piltdown presents an initial clear-cut demarcation between real and fake archaeology, but as the case studies proceed Lovata introduces more complex situations. The Manitou Springs site in his next case study is an Anasazi cliff dwelling of the same type as Mesa Verde, but built about a century ago, outside the prehistoric Anasazi area, but using remains from an authentic ruin transported to the site. Still clearly fake but, like excursions to Old Sydney Town and Sovereign Hill, affording an opportunity to access and interact with the past that is not possible with whatever is left of the ‘real thing’. The interpretation of the site stresses the support of pioneering archaeologists in creating an accessible and generally accurate facsimile, but also underplays the fact that it is not a real ruin. Lovata explores the consequences of this approach and how the public and professional communities respond.

The Manitou Springs case study introduces the idea that archaeology is not just what archaeologists regard as authentic. There are other audiences, including the public, Indigenous and ethnic groups who use the past in ways that are different to those of the professional heritage community. The torreon chapter brings home the idea of ethnic identification being reinforced by the use of buildings and motifs from the past. In this case torreons, cylindrical defensive towers built in Spain and then a feature of Spanish settlement in the US southwest, mark a specific ethnic affinity. Modern forms of the torreon are now included in advertising, fast food joints and public art. Are these fake or just the most recent phase of the long history of that building type? The chapter also makes the point that use of motifs of the past is not passive but also ideological and have different readings through time and to different audiences. This is reinforced in the final chapter, a fun look at the construction of fake Stonehenges and Easter Island moai in the United   States.

Inauthentic Archaeology covers two related but distinct issues – appropriation and use of the past and appropriation of archaeology. Appropriating the past is nothing new – it is one of the ways that power is legitimised or authority undermined. With Piltdown, Manitou Springs and torreons Lovata examined how images of the past were used in modern contexts. In his next chapter, focusing on three artists, he looks at how these artists use archaeological methodology. Artist Mark Dion, for example, stages art performances that have involved the creation of archaeology-style digs where ‘sites’ such as the banks of the Thames are gridded-out, collected, the artefacts analysed and classified and ultimately displayed. In effect, he is parodying the sort of archaeology that we do, and subverting it by showing that it is possible to go through the motions of survey, recovery and classification without being an archaeologist at all. This has sometimes provoked a surprising degree of criticism from archaeologists, based on Dion’s own comments in his interview with Lovata and online discussion group comments. While some of this is possibly philistinism, at least some of it must be from the discomfiture of archaeologists being shown up as ‘performing’ a role.

In the study notes Lovata asks ‘Is archaeology a set of artifacts? Is it a series of stories about the past? Or is it a certain way of acting, dressing, and looking at the world?’ (p.134). This question comes to the core of Lovata’s argument. While most archaeology is unarguably authentic, there is a grey area that brings us into the realm of different uses for the past (e.g. torreons and carhenges), and in using archaeology as a means of reaffirming an object’s authenticity or worth (e.g. Manitou Springs or Mark Dion’s work). The case studies bring out the issues involved in these situations, and the commentary and study notes set them into a broader context, and provide guidance for discussion or further enquiry.

Why is any of this important? Lovata’s argument is that as the creators of the knowledge of the past we have a responsibility to at least know to what uses that information is put by others. He also argues strongly that archaeologists have public stewardship roles in not only discovering stuff, but also telling the stories of the past as an ethical obligation. To do this successfully sometimes means using other tools – hence the Piltdown cartoon, understanding how artists tell archaeological stories, the use of fake ruins to make the past come alive and so on. Underpinning all of these is a concern that unless archaeologists understand what is going on and take some ownership of the process by which their data is used, then they will lose the ability to create enduring benefits for public knowledge and heritage conservation. Archaeologists have lost their position as the main voice of authority about the past, if they ever had it, and now contend with many other groups to be heard.

I think the book certainly succeeds as a primer on the subject, although the exclusive focus on the US, apart from Piltdown, may serve to reinforce a prejudice that it is something that only foreigners do. That would be disappointing, as the lessons are directly applicable to an Australian context. Australian archaeologists have had decades of trying to negotiate and maintain a professional culture that is constantly being challenged by Indigenous people, and has learned the hard way that it cannot maintain the sole authoritative voice about the past. Inauthentic archaeologies abound here as much as anywhere, from claims for secret visitors to Australia (the Gympie pyramid, Stradbroke Island shipwreck, the Mahogany Ship), use of historical imagery for ideological purposes (Eureka flags waved by everyone from neo-Nazis to the far Left), pretend heritage from the educational to the surreal (Kryal Castle) and a continuing debate about whether there is such a thing as a single national history and a question of what place material evidence has in it.

The book is a good introduction to identifying and defining inauthentic archaeology. As an introductory text, Lovata portions his argument and evidence out in small self-contained chunks that reinforce one point at a time. I would recommend it to anyone interested in the broader role of archaeology and the use of archaeological information in society. While it is a primer, it provides one of the few book-length treatments of the subject and raises questions that are relevant to current professional archaeological practice in Australia. What is valuable about this book is that it does not shy away from engaging with inauthentic archaeologies. They do not have to be our secret pleasures or shames.

Review of ‘Coastal Themes: An Archaeology of the Southern Curtis Coast, Queensland’ by Sean Ulm

Barker book review cover AA66Coastal Themes: An Archaeology of the Southern Curtis Coast, Queensland by Sean Ulm Terra Australis 24, ANU E Press, Canberra, 2006, xxviii+314 pp., ISBN 1-920942-93-9 (pbk).

Bryce Barker

School of Humanities and Communication, University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba Qld 4350, Australia

Coastal Themes: An Archaeology of the Southern Curtis Coast, Queensland by Sean Ulm is another in the long standing Terra Australis monograph series, which has had a new lease of life in recent times. One of the strengths of Terra Australis is that it is one of the few publications that allow the full presentation of archaeological data in the form of site reports – something that is increasingly difficult to access in published form. The research outlined in this monograph is the culmination of Ulm’s PhD research and continues a long line of regional coastal research projects emanating from the University of Queensland Department of Anthropology and Sociology (now School of Social Science). This work is also the latest of a series of intensive regional coastal studies on the east coast of Queensland spanning some three decades, including Moreton Bay, the Cooloola Coast and Fraser Island, the Keppel Islands, the Whitsunday Islands and Princess Charlotte Bay.

The study aims to combine a broad regional archaeological characterisation of the southern Curtis Coast, addressing issues emerging out of archaeological studies in southeast Queensland with more specific methodological issues relating to chronology, taphonomy and sampling.

In broad terms the research in this monograph attempts a critique of the mid-late Holocene archaeological signature, by arguing that more fine-grained regional analyses show that there was no pan-continental uniformity of mid-late Holocene change, and that rather there was considerable variation across the continent. Ulm specifically questions Lourandos’ pan-continental model of late Holocene change by making the case that his use of supraregional trajectories as a primary locus of change, amalgamating diverse sequences from widely separated regions to define overarching patterns, actually masks the regional diversity of Holocene change. Ulm argues that intensive localised regional studies, focusing on specific methodological issues such as fine-grained chronologies will ultimately challenge the archaeological signature of mid-late Holocene change. The author argues that ‘fundamental elements of our understanding of the mid-to-late Holocene have been challenged in recent years’ (p.4) citing, for example, that eel traps and swamp management ‘may date to the early Holocene’ (p.4) and that backing technology is found to be much earlier than a mid-late Holocene innovation (even though it is clear that it was not a commonly adopted technology until the mid-late Holocene). These challenges are all to be welcomed, and intensive finer-grained regional studies will no doubt change aspects of how we view the mid-late Holocene.

However, one issue that is not addressed in the author’s critique of pan-continental models is that of scale. As Lourandos (Lourandos et al. 2006:35) has stated

the question of scale is central to questions of intensification and complexity – the debate [keeps] slipping between scalar levels – between big picture, to more nitty-gritty middle range. It [is] a case of comparing apples to oranges. The two levels need to be kept separate as they have different logic and data … the long-term archaeological trends [are] often criticised as not including enough middle-range information; as if finer-grained analysis would reveal further variation in the general trend itself. But the two sets of data are quite different. Finer-grained data would not necessarily alter the general trend, but just provide more information; in this case, at finer temporal levels. It’s a bit like saying, for example, that while population in Great Britain generally has continued to increase over the last 150 years or since the Industrial Revolution, when one looks at finer-grained regional British data the patterns are varied. Both may be correct, and data from one level doesn’t necessarily alter the information or pattern from the other.

While the fine-grained research outlined in this volume, highlights considerable regional and local temporal and spatial variation, it still broadly supports a mid-late Holocene change; such as evidence of increasing intensity of dynamic site and landscape use over time, and an accumulative increase in the establishment of new sites in the late Holocene on the central Queensland coast.

As part of the more fine-grained regional study, Ulm advocates a focus on refining regional chronologies, stating that ‘establishing secure regional chronologies remains a fundamental key to building meaningful accounts of intra- and inter regional sequences in Australia’ (p.5). In particular, he critiques the way in which some sites are dated, specifically the common procedure of obtaining basal dates and subsequent assumptions made as to continuity of use, with the surface being treated as analogous to the contact period. Ulm’s meticulous collation of radiocarbon dates in all Queensland archaeological sites has shown that Holocene sites in Queensland have an average of 2.41 dates per site which he sees as being clearly inadequate to properly address the complexity of regional variation across the continent, especially in regard to assumptions about continuity of site use. There can be no doubt that it is certainly preferable to obtain as many dates as possible for a site. However, in many cases the decision not to date anything other than the basal XU and identifiable stratigraphic changes relate almost wholly to cost. In regard to surface or upper-most XUs many sites have post-contact artefactual material such as glass etc, and thus can be relatively dated.

The other chronological issue raised in this volume relates to environmental factors such as the uneven distribution of 14C in the biosphere, which impact directly on samples selected for dating. These factors lead to distinct regional differences which can impact on the accuracy of radiocarbon determinations measured on charcoal as well as marine samples. Ulm’s work on obtaining a more fine-grained analysis in relation to chronology is meticulous and breaks new ground in conclusively establishing the degree of variation in marine reservoir effect; particularly between samples taken from estuarine environments and the routinely applied ΔR value for northeast Queensland. The differences of up to 300 years can certainly be crucial when dealing with sites of short occupation. However, for many research models – depending on what questions are being asked and the scale involved – a couple of hundred years difference may not radically alter regional interpretations.

Other sampling issues Ulm addresses are the rockshelter versus open site bias – where Ulm (p.7) states that ‘even in coastal Australia, where the recent archaeological record is dominated by shell middens, accounts remain based on rockshelter sequences’. He states that ‘several studies have demonstrated that a high degree of post-depositional movement of cultural material between stratigraphic units can occur without damaging the physical appearance of strata or strata boundaries … calling into question basic assumptions about the integrity of the rockshelter deposits which form the basis of our understanding of the archaeology of Australia’. Taking a leaf from the author’s localised regional approach, I would argue that this greatly depends on local conditions relating to specific rockshelter sites and that no assumption should be made that, because conjoin analysis at Kenniff Cave showed downward movement (p.9), the same conditions relate to other shelters in completely different contexts with completely different geological sediments and deposition histories. In any case I am not sure too many Australian archaeologists assume that rockshelter sites have total stratigraphic integrity, but I am reasonably sure, based on a wide body of research including my own, that relative to rockshelter sites, open sites on the tropical coast are more problematic in terms of post-depositional integrity. I am surprised that this is still seen as an issue as a lot has been written about the reasons for a preference for rockshelters – especially on the Queensland tropical coast.

As an example of rockshelter sampling bias the author states that ‘accounts of the regional archaeology of the Whitsunday Islands on the central Queensland coast are based almost entirely on evidence from small excavations conducted on rockshelters despite open sites featuring in the ethnohistoric and archaeological record’ (p.7). This statement is as baffling as it is misleading. There are simply no known open sites of stratigraphic integrity in the WhitsundayIslands. The reality is that by the far the majority (not all) open sites north of the tropic of Capricorn are disturbed, redeposited or occur in problematic contexts.

Assessing site integrity through conjoin analysis of shell is one of the methodological approaches taken by the author in order to provide a sturdier framework for determining the degree of integrity of open sites (Chapter 5). As Ulm points out, it is strange, given ‘explicit and implicit reference to this site type [i.e. open sites] as stratigraphically problematic’ that further work has not been done in regard to taphonomy of open midden sites.  Ulm states that ‘[i]n certain circumstances, bivalve conjoining may be a useful adjunct to conventional approaches to shell midden analyses involving very basic characterisation of assemblage composition, with the potential to contribute an independent form of evidence to our understanding of site integrity and resolution, discard patterns and periodicity of occupation’ (p.77). If we are to have greater confidence in the integrity of open midden sites, it is clear that a much more sophisticated and refined methodology such as that presented here, needs to be applied. Methods such as conjoin analysis on bivalves, coupled with recent developments in foramina analysis in middens and analysis of non-cultural shell deposits, can lead to archaeologists being able to sample a broader range of site types in future analyses.

Overall the call made in this volume for a more fine-grained regional approach to archaeological models is timely and to be applauded. After some three decades of pioneering research directly to the south and north of the CurtisCoast it is possible to start focusing on a more refined and sophisticated regional perspective. Inevitably the more work carried out in a region relating to questions and problems already posed by prior research will reveal a greater degree of detail and complexity than the models that preceded it. This is certainly to be welcomed. In this volume the author has demonstrated meticulous attention to detail in what amounts to an almost flawless presentation and he has set the methodological standard for a more meticulous and fine-grained analysis of sites in the future. Ulm concludes by stating that ‘[t]he major task ahead therefore remains a basic one: to construct and compare detailed individual site sequences from a range of site types, at the local and regional level, to establish the existence of trends independent of site-specific taphonomic and/or environmental factors’ (p.255). I have no doubt that future research can and will focus on these tasks; however, as to what extent it will change how we view mid-to-late Holocene change in Australia remains to be seen.


Lourandos, H., B. David, B. Barker and I.J. McNiven 2006 An interview with Harry Lourandos. In B. David, B. Barker and I.J. McNiven (eds), The Social Archaeology of Australian Indigenous Societies, 21-39. Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press.

Review of ‘Archaeology of Ancient Australia’ by Peter Hiscock

Fagan book review cover AA66Archaeology of Ancient Australia by Peter Hiscock, Routledge, London, 2008, xviii+338pp, ISBN 978-0-415-33811-0 (pbk).

Brian Fagan

Department of Anthropology, University of California, Santa Barbara CA 93106, USA

The tyranny of the ethnographic record has dogged Australian archaeology for generations. This is hardly surprising, given the often exiguous archaeological signature, a long preoccupation with chronology, culture history, and the Dreamtime, and the readily availability of numerous, albeit often fractured, historical accounts dating to the past two centuries. Other assumptions have bedeviled research as well, notably a persistent notion that ancient Aboriginal societies were conservative and changed little over thousands of years. However, the past quarter century has seen a dramatic flowering of multidisciplinary research, notably into climatic and environmental change, in which archaeology has played an important part. Australian researchers have both benefited from, and contributed importantly to, a new generation of hunter-gatherer studies that have transformed many of our perceptions of such societies, ancient and modern. Fortunately, the days of preoccupation, nay obsession, with the San of Southern Africa’s Kalahari Desert as a model hunter-gatherer society are now history. Peter Hiscock’s introduction to a now very complex subject reflects the dramatically changed face of Australian archaeology.

Some people still denigrate the writing of what Hiscock calls ‘popular texts’, but they are, in fact, among the hardest books of all to write. The author has to navigate between different viewpoints, write in an easily intelligible, jargon-free style, and make hard decisions about what to include and what to omit. Hiscock has faced these problems head-on, in a book that is aimed, he says, at the next generation of researchers. He has written a synthesis that focuses on key questions and examines them by using carefully selected examples, or case studies as he calls them, of which LakeMungo is one instance. His concern is to balance science and the humanities, teetering on the fine knife edge between oceans of technological detail and the need both to entertain and to explain the ambiguities of the archaeological record. The result is a fascinating, state-of-the-art journey through Australia’s past, which is certainly not aimed at freshmen or the general public, but at students and readers with a serious interest in the subject, and probably some previous knowledge of the subject.

Chapter 1 peers through what the author calls ‘the veil’ of Antipodean history. Here we face the tyranny of the ethnographic record, of analogy, which has coloured interpretations of ancient Aboriginal society. Hiscock guides us through diverse interpretations of LakeMungo, using as a starting point a well-known Giovanni Caselli painting, which shows the people using artefacts that did not exist in their day. He discusses the effects of smallpox on Aboriginal society, and advocates a ‘methodological uniformitarianism’ that assumes that regularities in how the world operated structured the processes of human behavior. These regularities also allow us to identify ancient physical environments. This approach allows one to escape undue reliance on analogy and ethnography.

The remainder of the book focuses on key questions, starting with five chapters on the issue of first settlement, which receives welcome, critical treatment. Chapter 2 surveys some of the major approaches – the environmental, demographic, genetic, and cultural dimensions of the problem. Interestingly, this is the first synthesis I have read which treats of the potential impact of the epochal Mt Toba explosion between 75,000 and 71,000 years ago. We are treated, also, to a probing analysis of dating methods, which effectively debunks luminescence chronologies and places first settlement to somewhere before about 45,000 years ago (there is an appendix on Radiocarbon Dating). Chapter 3 builds on this assessment by examining the evidence for early settlement across Australia. Did Aboriginal groups first settle the coast or both coast and interior? Inland settlement in fact unfolded very early on indeed. Hiscock makes a strong case for the importance of climatic shifts, and especially droughts during the Last Glacial Maximum. Herein lies one of the central arguments of the book – ancient societies throughout Australia changed constantly in response to environmental and other factors and bore little resemblance to historical groups.

From early settlement, the author moves on to other fundamental questions. Here, as in the Americas, megafaunal extinctions (Chapter 4) occurred after the Ice Age, triggered in this case by climatic shifts not human intervention. Two chapters discuss the first Australians themselves, and life in Pleistocene Australia. A multidisciplinary perspective stresses not successive migrations from outside but the diversity of ancient human populations. These evolved in different directions as a result of dynamic adjustments by a founder population to varied social and material environments over long periods of time. The hunter-gatherers who colonised Australia were accustomed to diverse and harsh landscapes. They adapted to them with elaborate technologies and material expressions of ritual and symbolic practices. Such societies were not simplified versions of later cultures, but an intricate tapestry of constantly changing local and regional groups, where social institutions were as important as material culture in shaping human existence.

Hiscock devotes Chapter 7 to Tasmania and its isolation, long the subject of theorising about the effects of rising sea-levels about 14,000 years ago. Again, he argues that the complex interplay of economy, environment, social institutions and technology, produced ever-changing societies. The Tasmanians moved inland and adapted to drier, more variable climates some 4000 to 5000 years ago, at about the time when El Niño events became more commonplace in distant Peru.

From first settlement and isolation, Hiscock moves on to technology, not with a dreary catalogue of artefacts and culture history, but with an adaptive perspective. Were there major changes some five millennia ago that resulted from a new package of ideological, social, technological, and economic behaviors? Chapter 8 argues that technological changes resulted from shifting adaptations in different areas that stemmed from highly varied responses to the abundance of food resources that tried to minimise risk. In other words, what happened in general terms in Tasmania also occurred on the mainland.

Hiscock then devotes three chapters to coastal, inland, and arid economies respectively. Again, he eschews linear culture history and looks at the constant economic, technological, and subsistence changes over the millennia. On the coast, he stresses both the essential continuity of basic food getting practices and the major changes in emphasis that kicked in over long periods of time. Arid environments saw ever-shifting cycles of hunter-gatherer mobility and of culture as groups adjusted to periods of drought and higher rainfall. This approach is invaluable for beginning students, for it turns the archaeological record from a mind-numbing recital of artefacts into a story of dynamic, ingenious change and opportunism that was the mark of Aboriginal societies from the beginning. The same adaptive approach informs Chapter 12, which discusses population growth and mobility. Hiscock argues convincingly that there was never a unidirectional growth trend, but a constant fluctuation that reflected the harsh realities of local environments.

Chapter 13 extends these arguments into the social realm, and covers issues of interaction through time. Here, the emphasis is on the close entanglement of environment, economy, ideology and social life, well illustrated by the example of Rainbow Serpent images and other paintings. The physical and social realms engaged with one another in complex ways over long periods of time.

Finally, Hiscock confronts that he calls ‘the ethnographic challenge’, studying societies of the past millennium by using carefully selected examples. He discusses remembered landscapes like Ngarrabullgan on Cape York in the far north, unraveling a mosaic of archaeology, oral tradition, and remembered history. There are issues of contact, between northern groups and Macassan trepang collectors, which began in about 1720, and the effects of such interactions on local societies. He argues that the diversity and rapidity of culture change over the past thousand years supports a portrait of ancient Australian societies as part of a changing, varied cultural system. Archaeology reveals a dynamic, vibrant past when ancient Aboriginal people constantly reorganised not only their economies, but their social lives and worldviews as well. This dynamic reality of constant change and opportunistic adaptation is a cause for celebration and the death knell of earlier theories that thought of the Australian past as conservative and unchanging.

Ancient Australia is one of those books that many of us will return to again and again, not only for its insights into local archaeology, but as a fine example of how new generations of archaeologists are transforming our discipline into a truly multidisciplinary enterprise. Hiscock has written a nice primer on the perils of ethnographic analogy and brought a formidable critical intelligence to bear on such issues as first settlement. I would not necessarily describe this clearly written book as an easy read and it is certainly not a popular book and the entertainment quotient is fairly low. Instead, and more importantly, this is a serious and definitive synthesis of Australian archaeology, with an excellent and up-to-date bibliography that will appeal to a broad readership of archaeologists, both local and international, and to generations of serious students. I suspect that ‘read Hiscock’ will become a regular part of the litany of many university curricula. And so it should. Hiscock has written a potential classic, which is perceptive, provocative, and right on the cutting edge. And, at this stage in research, that’s as important as any number of entertaining books, especially for anyone interested in world prehistory.

The Rise and Demise of Patent Medicine Abortifacients and their Influence on the Agency of Victorian Women

Noel Sprenger

BA(Hons), School of Social Science, The University of Queensland, October 2007

Details of abortifacient patent medicines and a study of the social history of their use by women to terminate unwanted pregnancies during the Victorian era are presented. Many commentators have theorised as to causes for the decrease in births throughout the Western world from the mid-nineteenth century and consideration must be given to factors such as the economy, growing secularism, the rise in feminism and the use of contraceptive methods. However, little attention has been given to patented chemical abortifacients as one of these causal factors and it is contended that the rise of patent medicines in the ‘golden age’ (1865–1907) matched the fall in the birth rate and was, in part, responsible for this decline. The story that unfolds is complex. Its primary focus lies in ascertaining the effects of abortifacients on the agency of Victorian women. Pregnancy and birth, the realm of female healers and midwives throughout history had become a subject of public accountability, and the body of a woman (a permissible topic in polite conversation only in terms of nurturing) was subjected to medical and state intervention. While juridical authorities commenced the task of the management of pregnancy by the introduction of laws making abortion illegal, irrespective of the considerations of women, an orchestrated campaign by the male-dominated medical profession insured that doctors successfully replaced midwives in pre- and post-natal matters. This disruption to female networks previously used to disseminate knowledge of tried and tested chemical abortifacients to terminate unwanted pregnancies should have resulted in the loss of reproductive control for Victorian women, but apparently this did not occur. The manufacturers of patent medicines intervened to provide a range of abortifacient products of varying toxicity and result. The demise of patent medicines, including abortifacients, early in the twentieth century, through the demonstrated power of white, Anglo-Saxon males in the law-making and medical professions, evidently resulted in a reduction in women’s reproductive options. For archaeology, the presence of abortifacient containers, as a component of assemblages in Victorian-era sites, can provide significant insights into life (or death) choices of individuals from that period, as well as a good indication of the dating of historical archaeological sites.

Review of ‘A Companion to Social Archaeology’ edited by Lynn Meskell and Robert W. Preucel

Paterson book review cover A66A Companion to Social Archaeology edited by Lynn Meskell and Robert W. Preucel, Blackwell Publishing, Malden, 2004, xi+430 pp., ISBN 978-14051-5678-3.

Alistair Paterson

Archaeology, M405, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley WA 6009, Australia

The idea of a social archaeology has a long pedigree, and is reinvented for each generation of archaeologists. It is a term that has gained currency in recent years, with a journal badged in that name in press since 2001. A Companion to Social Archaeology is a solid compendium of both past and cutting-edge research into social archaeology. What is meant by ‘social archaeology’ today? The editors tackle this from a historical perspective in their introduction to Part I, settling first upon Hall’s (2001) definition that ‘Social archaeology refers to the ways in which we express ourselves through the things we make and use, collect and discard, value or take for granted, and seek to be remembered by’ (p.3), before highlighting that ‘every form of political economy requires its own history and past narrative’ (p.3), and arguing for a greater influence of archaeology in modern societies. The introduction is worth mulling over, for it provides some historical depth to the issue. Meskell and Preucel see the origins of a social archaeology in the 1930s with V. Gordon Childe’s attempt to direct the attention of archaeologists to the study of past societies, and in Grahame Clarke’s (1939) Archaeology and Society. They highlight how Childe, Clarke and others, such as K.C. Chang, were aware that the practice of archaeology was linked in part to modern social and political interests, a self-awareness central to today’s social archaeology. The arrival of processual approaches saw social aspects of past people relegated to a subset of a cultural system, and the authors reflect on the work of Lewis Binford, and Colin Renfrew’s characterisation of social archaeology as interested in the social unit and its relationship to the material record available to archaeologists. The postprocessual era, deriving from Ian Hodder’s critique of processual archaeology and later the work of Michael Shanks and Christopher Tilley, saw a general rejection of the focus on economic aspects of past societies in favour of the social and political aspects as well as a renewed self-awareness regarding archaeology as a practice conducted in the present and thus socially and politically ‘embedded’. With a potted history behind them the editors and their contributors move on to consider the last quarter century. Some contributors in this volume meet the challenge of bridging the concerns of processual and post-processual archaeology in contemporary practice. Others raise issues that have grown in importance in recent times, such as the importance of non-Anglo-American approaches to archaeology, Indigenous approaches to the past, and the relationship between the practice of archaeology and modern communities.

I have read edited volumes recently which while well-intentioned did not have the quality and scope of content to tackle the intended topic – that is not the case in this volume. It is thorough, with 17 chapters by experts in their respective areas. The quantity of chapters makes a thorough description unattractive, and instead I will briefly detail the four sections of the book: Knowledges, Identities, Places and Politics.

The topic of ‘Knowledges’ requires reviewing the social in archaeological thought, with the most significant distinction being between processual and post-processual approaches. Ian Hodder’s and Bruce Trigger’s chapters take this issue to task, with Hodder expanding on the editors’ introduction to explore ‘the social in archaeology’, and Trigger reviewing cross-cultural comparisons in studies of the origin of state societies. Thomas Patterson’s review of the influence of Marxist thinking on archaeologists provides a comprehensive literature survey well beyond the boundary of archaeology. Issues of embodiment, gender, sexuality and age are considered by Rosemary Joyce who provides a useful review of the last decade of work on these topics in archaeology. Clive Gamble and Erica Gittins argue there is no social archaeology without an understanding of the Palaeolithic, and go on to explore approaches to a social archaeology of the Palaeolithic, arguing that such approaches ‘would significantly alter not only the Paleolithic’s relationship with the rest of archaeology, but also the relationship the West has with its own identity and past’ (p.113).

The section on ‘Identities’ brings together contributions concerned with the historicity of the archaeological study of identity, and recent trends in the area, including within gender and feminist archaeologies, and in studies of race, class and embodiment. Roberta Gilchrist reviews the recent increased focus on age and aging, from studies of childhood to the culturally and historically contingent understandings of the life experiences of women and men. Chris Gosden reviews how archaeological and anthropological constructions of self and other, and the present and past, have been shaped by their colonial and post-colonial context. He considers the relevance and potential of recent anthropological and other theory informed by post-colonial thought regarding personal and group relationships with the material world. Victor Buchli reports on the construction of the capital of Kazakhstan and how architectural styles reflect the complexity of the construction of identity, even in the recent past let alone in prehistory. Paul R. Mullins reviews an area of core relevance to historical archaeology, namely the archaeological study of consumption over time.

In ‘Places’, Emma Blake provides a useful overview of recent theories of space in the social sciences, predominantly geography, as well as archaeology. Additionally, she considers the archaeological studies of urban contexts and of border/contact zones before providing a case study of spatiality of the ancient Phoenician colony of Motya (Sicily). Wendy Ashmore provides a very comprehensive review of recent archaeological studies of landscape with a focus on social archaeological perspectives. Julia A. Hendon argues for the study of household production and social relations with a focus on individual agency, daily practice, and economic production at a household level. Ian Lilley’s chapter is about diaspora theories; he explores the archaeological potential of these against the evidence of Lapita-using people.

The recent politicisation of archaeology and heritage by events such as the looting of the BaghdadMuseum and the destruction of heritage in the BamiyanValley serves to introduce the final section on ‘Politics’. Reinhard Bernbeck and Susan Pollock examine archaeology in the Middle East: who is involved, how they are involved, and archaeology’s links to contemporary trends such as globalisation and the breakdown of nation states. Gustavo C. Politis and José Antonio Pérez Gollán consider the situation in Latin America, and the sociopolitical contexts in which archaeology has developed in this diverse region. Randall H. McGuire provides a historical review of two North American competing histories – (1) Native American histories sustained despite colonial and nation state contexts; and (2) archaeologically-informed and, until recently, largely non-Indigenous explanations of the past. Finally, Koji Mizoguchi considers the history of archaeology in Japan and the role of archaeology during the formation of the nation.

The strengths of the volume are clear to me. The volume works: the four sections at first seemed like an unnecessary contrivance, yet they have presented a clear – yet not singular – argument for what social archaeology is today. On the whole each contributor has made a serious contribution in their chapters, and has provided guides to further reading. Both professionals and students will find the volume a very useful reference.

In this archaeological pilgrimage A Companion to Social Archaeology has been a well-met companion on the road.


Clarke, G. 1939 Archaeology and Society. London: Methuen.

Hall, M. 2001 Social archaeology and the theatres of memory. Journal of Social Archaeology 1:50–61.

Gold Fever: Disease and its Cultural Relationship: A Case Study on the Development of the Colony of Victoria, 1850 to 1900

Phil Roberts

MA, School of Archaeology and Anthropology, The AustralianNationalUniversity, June 2006

This thesis is a study of the use of disease and disease terminology as a tool for the reconstruction of cultural environments in historical archaeological studies. This is achieved through exploring disease behaviour in the colony of Victoria, experienced by European, Asian and Aboriginal groups, from 1850 to 1900, during and in the aftermath of the socio-economic phenomenon of the Victorian Gold Rush. The data for this thesis derive, for the most part, from government registers of mortality in the colony.

The aims of this study were explored in the context of several key questions: (1) how does disease change with the socio-economic developments of Victoria 1850-1900?; (2) given a common geography and historical events, how do disease rates differ between the Asian, European and Aboriginal groups and what are the potential causes for this?; (3) using this data, is it possible to differentially diagnose particular diseases through the examination of terminological usage?; and (4) in answering these questions, how useful are indicators of disease in archaeological, anthropological and epidemiological investigations when attempting to determine the environments in which people lived and are living?

The key findings were that when the terms ‘quinsy’ and ‘laryngitis’ were used to describe death they most commonly refer to diphtheria infection. The term ‘puerperal fever’ refers to group A streptococci bacterial infection of the vagina and uterus following childbirth. The terms describing liver disease most commonly refer to alcoholic diseases of the liver.

In terms of disease change with the socioeconomic developments of Victoria from 1850 to 1900, alcohol abuse behaviour changed from binge-drinking in the 1850s to long-term alcoholism in the 1870s. Diet changed throughout the study period and patterns of fertility were reflected in disease patterns. Between the minority groups the use of the mortality term ‘unknown’ differs markedly, potentially showing changes in racial prejudice with economic success. The different ethnic groups also had very different rates of accidents, potentially indicating employment levels and risk of suicide.

It was demonstrated that mortality in Victoria throughout the period of study changed markedly. Variation was found between the rates of listed causes of mortality in different socio-economic environments and in different ethnic groups, demonstrating the utility of disease in reconstructing past cultural environments. Further, it is shown that different diseases have varying levels of value in reconstructing cultural change. Finally, it is clear that different causes of mortality need to be considered on a disease-by-disease basis in ascertaining how sensitive the behaviour of the disease is in communicating information about human behaviour in the past.

Review of ‘Whalers and Free Men: Life on Tasmania’s Colonial Whaling Stations’ by Susan Lawrence

Gibbs book review cover AA66Whalers and Free Men: Life on Tasmania’s Colonial Whaling Stations by Susan Lawrence, Australian Scholarly Publishing, North Melbourne, 2006, viii+211 pp., ISBN 1 74097 087 X.

Martin Gibbs

Department of Archaeology, School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry, University of Sydney NSW 2006, Australia

One of the great tragedies of Australian historical archaeology has been our failure to translate the results of our research into stories which are accessible to the public. Remote industrial frontiers, urban slums, convicts, graveyards – most of us have undertaken or are aware of any number of projects which would make for riveting books that would get across our contributions to history and knowledge. However, the number of volumes produced over the last 10 years which have been aimed at the public could probably be numbered on two hands.

With Whalers and Free Men, Susan Lawrence has produced her second book which translates her academic research into a form which should satisfy both the public wanting a good story and archaeologists wanting information on a major archaeological project. The nineteenth century shore-based whaling industry has been a popular theme for historical and maritime archaeologists since the 1980s, with regional and site-specific studies undertaken throughout all southern Australian states and New Zealand. Lawrence’s work focuses on the Tasmanian shore whalers of the 1820–1840s period, examining several sites associated with Hobart entrepreneur James Kelly.

Chapter 1 ‘Kelly’s People’ provides the historical context for the whaling industry, James Kelly’s involvement and the operations of his AdventureBay and LagoonBay stations. One of the pleasing elements of this book is that Lawrence manages to humanise the history of the Tasmanian whaling industry by introducing a range of individuals associated with Kelly’s operation, including the Aboriginal men and women who established working and domestic relationships with the whalers during what would prove to be a period of tragic change and loss.

Chapter 2 ‘Building a Station’ details the industrial and domestic operations associated with shore stations and shifts into a description of the archaeological investigation of the two whaling sites. The chapter takes on a narrative form which includes not only a description of the results of the surveys and excavations, but an explanation of the investigative processes and insights into how Lawrence and others reached their interpretations. What might otherwise have been tedious technical detail becomes surprisingly readable and would give both general readers and students a better idea of how projects of this type proceed.

Chapter 3 ‘Whalers Rubbish’ is a discussion of the artefacts recovered, divided into major functional categories. This section sticks to identification and broad historical context, with some comparison to other archaeological sites. For those requiring a more detailed dataset, there are extensive appendices.

Chapter 4 and 5, ‘Life at the Stations’ and ‘After the Whalers Left’ draw together the archaeological and historical stories. Not surprisingly, the subtheme of these chapters is the relationship between what the documentary record tells us of the life of the whalers, versus what is provided by the archaeological record. Life on the maritime industrial frontier was hard and often violent, but at the same time regulated by a well-established set of contracts and traditions. Whaling especially was linked into a wider international set of structures and hierarchies based in part upon an individual’s performance with oar or harpoon, often over-riding the divisions of race and class seen in ‘normal’ settlements. Once again Lawrence includes the questions which drove the analysis, while being honest about the limits inherent in the structural and artefact evidence (and about where her questions simply couldn’t be answered), but still manages to weave together a fair idea of what life may have been like. The final section on what is likely to have happened to the sites after the whaling era finished, as indicated by the artefacts of later timber-getters, bushwalkers, fishermen and tourists, brings the reader back to the present.

Whalers and Free Men is an easy read, with sufficient illustrations of site plans and artefacts that the lay reader should come away with a good sense of the contribution that the archaeological research has made. Production of this volume is mostly good, with the exception that some of the photographs have reproduced a little dark and are hard to make out. Presumably the absence of plates on glossy paper (which might have made these easier to see), is also one of the reasons why this book is a very reasonable price.

Walking between Two Paradigms

Bettyann Doyle

BA(Hons), School of Social Science, The University of Queensland, June 2007

In this thesis I examine Barada people’s dilemma of ‘walking between two paradigms’ when recording and documenting their cultural landscapes. Owing to legislative requirements, Barada are forced to identify with and embrace Western processes of recording cultural landscapes (rigid lines marking individual ownership) as opposed to their Indigenous concepts of boundaries (fluid and identified by Dreaming tracks). Barada Barna Kabalbara Yetimarla (BBKY) is a Geographical Information System tool used by Barada in Central Queensland. I examine whether the BBKY GIS software differs from generic Western-designed and operated GIS software and whether BBKY meets the needs of its Indigenous users and, if so, who holds control and power over these mapping processes. Semi-structured interviews with Barada are used to explore tensions in recording Barada cultural landscapes and are analysed in the context of recent debates about Indigenous knowledge and Indigenous cultural heritage management. A pattern emerges demonstrating that although archaeologists and researchers from other disciplines use GIS for recording landscape boundaries, there are problems in this approach for Barada owing to the fact that it is difficult to digitise narrative and the fact that Indigenous landscapes do not exhibit rigid boundaries. I discuss the continuum of control that Barada have in mapping their cultural landscape and argue that BBKY sits at the intersection between two knowledge systems. Finally, I argue that BBKY as a tool enhances Barada’s control and power over their cultural heritage.

Review of ‘Box Office Archaeology: Refining Hollywood’s Portrayals of the Past’ edited by Julie M. Schablitsky

Hiscock book review cover AA66Box Office Archaeology: Refining Hollywood’s Portrayals of the Past edited by Julie M. Schablitsky, Left Coast Press, Walnut Creek, CA, 2007, 256 pp., ISBN 978-1-59874-056-1.

Peter Hiscock

School of Archaeology and Anthropology, The Australian National University, Canberra ACT 0200, Australia

This curious book will appeal to archaeologists who are annoyed when Hollywood constructs film plots that do not conform to their understanding of the evidences and, far more importantly, to teachers who intend to teach history through a commentary on filmic representations. Containing 13 chapters, this edited volume brings together a number of authors who comment on the historical reality of film depictions and the archaeological evidence for events displayed in movies. The collection emerged from papers given at a conference of the Society for Historical and Underwater Archaeology held in New York, and the films discussed reflect the maritime, historical, and very American focus of the participants. Hence, with the exception of chapters on the way Hollywood represents mummies and Vikings, the chapters focus entirely on historical events in America or on the way there. Hence the book offers considerations of Pocahontas, Amerindians, African Americans, the Wild West, the gangs of New York, historic Chinatowns, Confederate submarine battles, and American pirates as well as the Titanic. These are undoubtedly worthy and interesting topics, but this focus seems parochial, and may not be central to the needs of history teachers elsewhere in the world. Subjects well-represented in American cinema are not explored: the crusades, building pyramids, Alexander the Great, Roman politics and battles, Palaeolithic life, land battles of the American revolution and civil war, the bombing of Pearl Harbour and so on. Of course this observation does not diminish the value of the book, but it may well limit its value for non-American readers and teachers. For those searching for wider coverage other books may be worth considering (e.g. Jon Solomon’s The Ancient World in the Cinema, Tony Barta’s Screening the Past, or Hughes-Warrington’s History Goes to the Movies). However, what Box Office Archaeology provides is a focus on the archaeological material, written by archaeologists, and perhaps this is just what some readers are looking for.

More critically I note the existence of a tension in almost every chapter, between recognising that Hollywood productions have a very different objective to archaeological research and the temptation to complain about historical inaccuracies. The goal of many contributors, either implicitly or explicitly expressed, is to correct misunderstandings of the past purveyed by film-makers, an agenda reflected in the subtitle of the book. The editor, Julie Schablitsky, frames this in terms of the capacity of archaeologists to contradict popular myths expressed on celluloid (p.12). The list of corrections offered by the archaeologists in this volume is very lengthy, ranging from the pertinent observation that magical incantations found with mummies were meant to revive them in the afterlife (not to physically reanimate them in this life), to the quirky complaint that films about Vikings do not accurately depict sex with slaves about to be sacrificed. Of course even observations of the most trivial ‘errors’ add to the realisation that films do not offer us the kinds of representations of the past that professional archaeologists and historians would present in texts. Even academics such as Robert Rosenstone (in History on Film/Film on History), who encourage the expectation that history can be communicated through cinematic representations, argue that film is a radically different medium for delivering history and cannot be bound by the previous rules of academic historical analysis. Yet who could expect otherwise? Hollywood makes films for entertainment and profit, not only to convey some sense of historical events. Those films may reveal much about contemporary stereotypes and mythologies, but historical accuracy is not the central (or even the secondary) concern of most directors. Whining about historical faults, minor or major, in non-documentary movies is not only unlikely to alter the way Hollywood operates but is an approach which obscures the fundamental difference between movie-making and archaeology. In an exceptional final chapter, Vergil Noble embraces the reality that films about the past reflect mythic imperatives rather than archaeological evidence, that this has always been so, and that this is appropriate and laudable. He sagely advises that archaeologists would be well-advised to focus on how they can improve their own discipline rather than attempt to remake Hollywood in their own image. Of course we can all be fascinated by film representations of our discipline, but ultimately technical critiques such as those found throughout Box Office Archaeology must been seen as statements about archaeology rather than about cinema.

Review of ‘Renewing Women’s Business: A Documentary’ by Julie Drew and Wardaman Aboriginal Corporation

Babidge book review cover AA66Renewing Women’s Business: A Documentary by Julie Drew and Wardaman Aboriginal Corporation, Crow’s Nest NSW 2005, 57 mins, DVD.

Sally Babidge

School of Social Science, The University of Queensland, St Lucia Qld 4072, Australia

Renewing Women’s Business is a documentary film that follows Lily Gin.gina Burdum, an elderly Wardaman woman from the Victoria River District (referred to throughout the narrative as Lily), and Julie Drew, an archaeologist from the University of Sydney, on a camping trip. Lily is one of the few women of her generation who was taken through initiation rites, and the accompaniment and attention of her younger relatives on the trip is central to the narrative. We see Lily, with the assistance of Drew, teaching the younger women aspects of ‘women’s business’ and ‘culture’ through viewing rock art, learning dances, visiting waterholes and other places, and recounting ‘Dreamings’, associated mythic beings, and the social regulations associated with these. The DVD includes the film itself as well as a ‘Picture Gallery’ with many images of the group’s camping trip, rock art, scenery and fishing, as well as the film crew and other ‘behind the scenes’ images.

Spatial orientation is provided with a still of a good map of the Northern Territory and Victoria River District, as well as the location of the Wardaman community and Innesvale/Menngen Station. The introduction to the film also includes footage of preparations for the bush trip: adolescent girls having a telephone conversation with their teacher from Katherine School of the Air explaining their coming absence in terms of going camping to ‘learn about culture’ (Chapter 2); loading a vehicle with swags and supplies; and narrated introductions to the elder women central to the film as they warm themselves around a fire next to their house. This includes Lily’s sister (Queenie Nabijiji Morgan) who, it is pointed out, was not initiated in her youth due to having lived far away from the area from a young age with her ‘promise husband’. Both older women worked on cattle stations, but Lily grew up close to her family and country.

Drew’s personal depth of experience and knowledge of the women, the region and the topic plays a prominent role in the documentary, including as scriptwriter. The narration swaps between Drew and May Rosas (who Drew introduces as the narrator and ‘Lily’s niece’). They have apparently pitched the film at both a local and national audience. For example, we are told that ‘elders must share their knowledge … so that all young Australians can value it’; and that ‘Lily is happy to share these stories to help build a better understanding and respect for Wardaman woman’s business’ (Chapter 12). Given the audience they seek, I thought that the sparse use of subtitles was a tactic that may annoy some who like every word uttered on screen translated to text. However, I personally found satisfyingly the resultant requirement that the viewer focus on the central figures’ movements and non-verbal communication in conjunction with the spoken Aboriginal English.

The structure of the film and steady camera work is easy to follow and good to watch. As a subject Lily seems comfortable with the lens turned upon her, although Drew less so. In contrast, the young girls interact directly with the lens, acutely aware of its gaze. The girls –with their solemn expressions and sidelong glances at the camera as they listen to Lily’s interpretations of the figures in the rock art galleries; their raucousness as they are taught to dance; and their hands cupped over their mouths as they giggle (and are heard being told to ‘shush’) at the discussion between Lily and Drew of first menstruation rituals – lend a lively presence to the film that this reviewer appreciated. My favourite scenes in the documentary were of the group of girls and women sitting in a waterhole digging out the oily mud to smear on themselves as ‘love magic’ (jirri) (Chapters 5-6); and later, the conversation among a handful of adolescent and teenage girls sitting on the riverbank telling the camera about the power of the love magic, and about ‘skin’ laws in terms of who each of them can and can’t ‘go with’. Their preoccupation with sexual and social relationships was telling of the girls’ age and gender. More than this, these scenes demonstrate their lived social realities. On camera, they engage in gender and generational specific (but traditional) interpretations of knowledge in order to recount ‘skin’ regulations, and convey a sense of the contemporary-mythic when they tell a story about a woman they know of who successfully wielded love magic over her man, and in a later scene, talking about ‘breaking that spell’ (Chapter 12).

These scenes contrasted with the rather staged presentation and representations of cultural knowledge in questioning and response between Drew and Lily in the rock art galleries. The narrator informs us that knowing connections between ‘Dreaming’, law, and person means being a businesswoman, and respect for Lily’s depth of knowledge is made plain. Nonetheless, Drew’s constant interjection with questions, comment, and interpretation is a major hindrance in the appreciation of both myth and symbolic representation that we can see in the rock art.

While in many ways an interesting film, the production of Renewing Women’s Business needs some finessing. The cover provides only very basic information and the inside cover simply lists images in the DVD’s ‘Picture Gallery’. Furthermore, it would seem to make sense to indicate on the cover of the DVD that there is a detailed website associated with the film (, including teacher’s notes, and other useful information. As with the DVD itself, the information on the website would seem to me most useful as a record of one woman’s knowledge for the local community, but it seems to me to need further refinement if it is to be used by the wider public or university educators. Perhaps the most obvious lacunae in production detail was that nowhere could I find information around the issue of secrecy or gender sensitivity, except for a brief warning to Aboriginal men at the very beginning of the film. Apparently it is suitable and appropriate to be shown to non-Aboriginal men (given there is no warning to the contrary), but given the obvious question, I feel this could have been addressed explicitly.

It is worth making some critique of the way in which Drew (who is referred to as an ‘ethnographic archaeologist’) applies the culture concept in the scripting and narration. To take the most obvious example, the young girls are said to ‘live in two worlds’ (Chapter 2). Firstly, Lily herself (and her sister), as well as the young girls’ mother’s generations, and the young girls themselves, all live (currently and apparently have done so throughout their lives) in a complex social and cultural context that cannot be characterised as simply Aboriginal or non-Aboriginal. From an ethnographic perspective, the whole of their social reality, from which they draw meaning, and which they take for granted, is their cultural world. In the way they engage with the cameras, it is clear that the youngest take for granted the role of multimedia and its power as a representational tool. At the same time, they emphasise to their school teacher (over the phone) that they must be absent for camping and ‘culture’, and they express their respect for their grandmothers’ knowledge. All of these things and more are part of their world, rather than necessarily belonging to one of two separable ‘cultural spheres’.

A further comment on the use of the concept of ‘culture’ must be made. The narrator states: ‘Today the girls have lost the knowledge of their ancestors’ traditions’ (Chapter 2). The premise of the documentary, or perhaps simply what underlies the narration of the film, is the pretence that one documented camping and education trip with a knowledgeable woman and an inquisitive archaeologist will ‘renew women’s business’. Perhaps the activities recorded on film are a minor part in other processes of cultural renewal and that this film documents only a fraction of a larger picture. Perhaps it is the case that the documentary represents only one excursion in a series; or perhaps much more work is being done by Wardaman women to ‘renew women’s business’. However, minimal information on the context of cultural renewal is emphasised in the film. I argue that in a film showing living people engaged in recording and representing aspects of their culture, more must be done to develop a clear language of the present in all of its complexity. By this, I mean an awareness of the politics of performance, and greater sophistication in both the representation of the process of salvaging an old person’s knowledge and young peoples’ apparent interest in this knowledge renewal and what they may do with it.

Archaeological Residue and Starch Analysis: Interpretation and Taphonomy

Michael Haslam

PhD, School of Social Science, The University of Queensland, November 2006

Microscopic analyses of artefact residues and sediment microfossils follow a sequence of sample selection, observation, description, identification and interpretation. Each of these stages requires separate, but inter-related, methodologies contributing to the eventual published or disseminated results. Archaeologists are increasingly using residue and microfossil identifications and interpretations to discuss artefact function and site development, making inferences about past subsistence and other activities that in turn impact on broader debates about past economic and social practices. It is the contention of this thesis that the stages of archaeological microscopic analysis themselves require closer examination, as a means of assessing and progressing the viability of reconstructions drawn by residue and microfossil analysts. In particular, three components are examined: identification, taphonomy, and the underlying theoretical framework of residue and microfossil interpretation. These components are investigated using light microscopic analysis of ancient starch and stone tool residues, with a focus on research conducted, and by researchers based, in the Australasian region.

A selection of published peer-reviewed papers forms the central chapters of the thesis. These studies investigate archaeological starch identification and misidentification, ancient starch taphonomy (including decomposition, preservation and movement through sediments) and the value of social archaeological theory in archaeological stone tool residue analysis. The roles of analytical scale and narrative presentation are explored as one way of coming to terms with, and communicating the findings of, typically small-scale analyses that record the results of very specific past actions. Original introductory and concluding chapters contextualise the research within current and past trends in microscopic residue and microfossil interpretation. This discussion includes the influence of sample sizes over the validity of stone tool residue analyses and the place of quantitative and qualitative approaches to archaeological sediment starch studies. Outcomes of the project include an emphasis on understanding taphonomic transformation of recovered residue and microfossil assemblages, recognition of the role played by identification in subsequent interpretation, and the contribution of an alternate theoretical and methodological framework for interpreting microscopic residues on stone artefacts.

Re-Evaluating the Australian Small-Tool Tradition: A Perspective from Hazelwood, Victoria

Joseph Alexander Brooke

BArch(Hons), Archaeology Program, School of Historical and European Studies, La TrobeUniversity, 2006

This thesis presents the analysis and interpretation of mid-Holocene stone artefact assemblages from the Driffield/Hazelwood area, eastern Victoria. Investigations were designed to generate information about the relationships between stone technology, subsistence activities and mobility patterns. It is argued that during the mid-Holocene, tool types, technologies, raw material use and reduction strategies indicate that people practised relatively mobile foraging strategies and that there was some form of change more recently, during the late Holocene, when people were less mobile.

Results from Driffield/Hazelwood were compared to studies of temporally comparable stone artefact assemblages from other parts of southeastern Australia, including Gariwerd/Grampians, Wilson’s Promontory, CaperteeValley and the southern coast of New South Wales. Similarities and differences in the composition and characteristics of mid-Holocene stone artefact assemblages in southeastern Australia reflect a relatively unified technology. Some variations in assemblage composition north and south of the Murray River are evident and some possible influencing factors for these discussed.

These discussions provide the basis for assessing the different classificatory schemes used to describe mid-Holocene changes in stone technology. It is suggested that the characteristics and significance of the concept of the Australian small-tool tradition need to be re-evaluated. Toward this goal, consideration is given to the explanations that have been offered for the introduction of microlithic industries in other parts of the world. It is argued that rejection of the Australian small-tool tradition, as some have suggested, is premature and more consideration should be given to the causes of regional and temporal variation in the characteristics of these assemblages, as Gould first advocated when he introduced the concept of the small-tool tradition to Australian archaeologists in 1969.

Review of ‘Lithics in the Land of the Lightning Brothers: The Archaeology of Wardaman Country, Northern Territory’ by Chris Clarkson

Gould book review cover AA66Lithics in the Land of the Lightning Brothers: The Archaeology of Wardaman Country, Northern Territory by Chris Clarkson, Terra Australis 25, ANU E Press, Canberra, 2007, xvii+221 pp., ISBN 9781921313288 (pbk).

Richard A. Gould

Department of Anthropology, Brown University, Providence RI 02912, USA

In northern Australia much of what we know about prehistory is derived from stone tools and tool-making debris, mainly because of the durability of lithic materials in the archaeological record. How much of the totality of past human behaviour can archaeologists reclaim through this body of evidence? The author has made a rigorous and commendable effort to probe the limits of inference based on lithic technology. This study centers on the lithic reduction process as an analytical platform for two goals: (1) characterising changes and variability in stone technology in the interior of northern Australia about 120km southwest of Katherine, Northern Territory, from the late Pleistocene until around 1500 BP, and (2) drawing inferences about changes in adaptive behaviour linked to climatic changes that affected the resources required for Aborigines living directly off the land.

The author does a fine job of analysing lithic technology in relation to strato-chronological evidence. His analysis conforms to what I have referred to elsewhere as ‘Crabtree’s First Law of Lithic Reduction’ which highlights how the last step in producing a stone artefact can obliterate all or most preceding steps. This observation provided a rationale for studying quarries and workshops in order to find evidence of steps in the production process (including unfinished, broken, and rejected pieces) and did much to redirect attention by archaeologists in North America away from an over concern for finished bifaces, like fluted points. The concept of the lithic reduction process followed from this assumption and continues to be applied effectively and refined to account for local and regional variations in prehistoric stone toolmaking – as demonstrated in this volume.

Clarkson’s analysis identifies some important points about the culture-historical sequence of lithic technology in the study area. The lithic reduction sequences there reveal a dendritic model of changes that is non-linear, and they also reveal variable rates of change in different components of the lithic assemblages. While lithic reduction is linear in the sense that it is always a subtractive process – involving removal of material from a piece without any way of building the piece backup – it is non-linear in the way some variables like discard rates peak, dip, and peak again through time. These findings should not surprise archaeologists, but it is helpful to see them worked out in detail with reference to the chronology of site assemblages at four stratigraphically-excavated rockshelters; Nimji (a.k.a. Ingaladdi), Garnawala 2, Gordolya, and Jagoliya. For example, the ‘event tree’ in Figure 6.3 encapsulates changes in core forms resulting from different modes of reduction and the relative frequencies of each stage in these excavated assemblages. This is followed by a discussion of shifts in tool-making strategies and the technical and behavioural factors that may account for these shifts.

Given the careful attention to lithic reduction sequences and stratigraphic relationships throughout this volume, it seems odd that more detailed attention was not paid to the matter of performance as defined by Schiffer and Skibo (1987, 1997) and cited by Clarkson. The author presents good evidence for the relative use-lives of different kind of tools, but the physical basis of this performance relative to the types of lithic raw materials used is hardly discussed. Similarly, the author’s ‘start-up costs’ in producing certain tools like tulas and points take in obvious factors like manufacture, hafting, and the objects to which they were hafted, but only partially explore the effort (cost) of obtaining the lithic materials, especially if the source was not local to the site area. The question of local vs non-local sources is never fully defined or analysed, and the lithic landscape is not treated in detail. In short, the direction of the lithic analysis is clear and convincing, but the conclusions are still somewhat incomplete.

Another anomaly worth mentioning here is the relative scarcity of ground-stone pieces. Only three were reported from Nimji, one from Garnawala 2, two at Jagoliya, and none from Gordolya. So for all practical purposes, ‘stone artefacts’ in this monograph means only flaked stone tools and debris. This raises the question of direct vs indirect indicators of economic activities, especially in relation to ecological stressors like prolonged drought. In Chapter 2 the author launches into a review of optimal foraging theory as it pertains to human hunter-gatherers by examining variables such as dietary breadth, central place vs field-processing of resources, encounter rates and patch choice, mobility and settlement patterning, and other factors that have figured prominently in a growing body of literature on the subject that was adapted originally from the biological sciences. Taken by itself, this is an excellent critical and concise review of this subject, and its best feature is the way it addresses risk. This factor was neglected at first in some biological models that emphasised optimality over risk mitigation. Today’s optimal foraging theorists, however, have become much better at integrating risk into their models. Clarkson’s treatment reflects this modified view of optimality, which archaeologists and anthropologists working in Australia’s arid and semi-arid zones have come to appreciate.

Taking this amended optimal foraging model along with different archaeologists’ commentaries, the author offers predictions (test implications) that should apply to changes in the lithic assemblages within the study area from the late Pleistocene onward. This kind of hypothesis-testing approach has its place in studies of this kind and can serve as a useful framework for considering alternative kinds of behaviour by mobile hunter-gatherers under ever-changing ecological conditions. But this kind of reasoning sometimes requires piling assumptions on top of each other, and care is needed to avoid exceeding the reasonable limits imposed by limited physical evidence, in this case flaked stone tool technology. The author explores these hypotheses and their test implications in a rigorous and detailed manner, but the question remains: Are there more convincing ways to infer changes in past economic and adaptive behavior more directly, with fewer assumptions?

When Clarkson states, ‘the study of stone artefact assemblages has the potential to contribute a vital and unique perspective on the past because they provide a tangible record of human behaviour intimately linked to the means by which people extracted a living from their environment’ (pp.162-163), he takes the position that, however indirect and inferential they may be, there are predictable linkages between lithic technology and adaptive behaviour among marginal hunter-gatherers. What about more direct sources of information about how the physical evidence of archaeology connects with ancient adaptive behaviour, such as faunal studies, residue analysis, bone and soil chemistry, and phytoliths? Direct approaches like these are becoming increasingly important in archaeology and are providing alternative pathways for hypothesis-testing that require simpler hypotheses and fewer assumptions. To his credit, Clarkson is always careful to note how lithic reduction and archaeological sequences only suggest, but do not demonstrate or prove, the validity of his hypotheses. There is, in fact, empirical evidence from ethnographic studies of Aboriginal Australians to suggest that some of these hypotheses may not be borne out as predicted, although this in no way negates their value as a framework for evaluating adaptive behaviour. So let the testing proceed …

From a regional perspective, Australian archaeologist’s will find Clarkson’s volume a useful guide to comparative analysis of lithic assemblages in other areas. For now, however, they will probably find the author’s conclusions on technological changes more compelling than his further inferences about palaeoecological and economic adaptations. Clarkson’s monograph definitely raises the bar for the controlled analysis of lithic technologies in Australian prehistory and represents a positive contribution that other Australian archaeologist’s should consider seriously in relation to their own studies.


Schiffer, M.B. and J.M. Skibo 1987 Theory and experiment in the study of technological change. Current Anthropology 28:595-622.

Schiffer, M.B. and J.M. Skibo 1997 The explanation of artifact variability. American Antiquity 62:27-50.

Review of ‘The Archaeologist’s Fieldwork Companion’ by Barbara Ann Kipfer

McNiven book review cover AA66The Archaeologist’s Fieldwork Companion by Barbara Ann Kipfer, Blackwell Publishing, Malden, 2007, xvi+467 pp., ISBN 1-4051-1886-5 (pbk).

Ian J. McNiven

Programme for Australian Indigenous Archaeology, School of Geography and Environmental Science, Monash University, Clayton Vic. 3800, Australia

Students sometimes ask me: What is the golden rule of taking fieldnotes? Usually I answer saying your notes should stand on their own such that another person could read them and understand exactly what you did and be able to take all of the materials you surface collected or excavated and relocate these back in the landscape with 3D precision. As such, your notes must relate clearly with your labelled materials. In the case of excavation, obviously other issues are important such as making sure your excavation units or spits are not too big and that they do not cut across stratigraphic units. Where do archaeologists learn such information? As students, much can be learnt in university classes augmented by jumping at every opportunity for practical experience helping out on site surveys and excavations. In addition to social and ethical issues, two key things you gain from practical experience are physical familiarity with the realities of the archaeological record and how to do fieldwork by doing it and watching and quizzing the fieldwork director and other experienced fieldworkers. However, all professionals know that a broad range of skill levels exist amongst practitioners – some archaeologists have extraordinary skills in deciphering sedimentary changes and identifying stratigraphic units, some don’t. How many archaeologists have the confidence to publish backplots of spits onto stratigraphic section drawings?. For archaeology students, the learning experience on fieldwork is increased greatly by being aware of the broad range of issues and recording techniques associated with best-practice fieldwork. This is where field method guidebooks can be of enormous value.

Barbara Kipfer’s The Archaeologist’s Fieldwork Companion is filled with technical and practical information on how archaeologist’s record, excavate and to some extent analyse sites (mostly terrestrial). It draws heavily on The Crow Canyon Archaeological Centre Field Manual (2001) and as such has a strong American slant. The volume is structured such that it functions best as a reference guide to archaeological field techniques. The seven chapters are arranged alphabetically to emphasis the guide function of the volume; 1. Classification and Typology, 2. Forms and Records, 3. Lists and Checklists, 4. Mapping, Drawing and Photographing, 5. Measurement and Conservation, 6. Planning Help, and 7. Resources. In other words, the volume is not a step-by-step manual on how to undertake fieldwork. Individual chapters have hundreds of entries arranged in alphabetical order to assist easy and quick access to technical information. This encyclopedia-like format is a good idea, but it does take some time to become familiar with the categorisation of information.

As with any archaeology field guide, deciding what information to include and at what level of detail is a balancing act. Some readers of Kipfer’s volume will wish more was said on some topics and less on others. For example, while I appreciate the volume is not a guide to archaeological excavation, more examples of best-practice in terms of how to excavate a broader range of different types of sites would have been useful. On the other hand, the detail in some conversion tables can only be described as overkill. As the volume has been written to appeal also to ‘enthusiasts’, professionals will find some of the lists of animal species and stone tool types a little rudimentary. Yet nearly 100 mock recording forms provide a wealth of ideas for designing your own project-specific recording forms. And in a sense, this is the strength of the volume – it provides a broad range of technical detail on the types of information that could be recorded in the field and standardised techniques for recording such information. There is something for everyone in this volume. The wire spiral binding gives the added advantage of being easy to use in the field.

Recommendations on best-practice field techniques generally translate well to the Australian context. I liked the recommendation that ‘you can never have too many photographs’ (p.275) when it comes to recording excavations. With digital photography, it is easy to run off 5–10 images for each spit. The recommendation to sieve onto plastic (e.g. plastic tarps) is excellent, as is the suggestion to locate the sieve area well away from potential areas of excavation. How many photos have we seen in publications of the sieve spoil heap located adjacent to the excavation pit! In terms of sieve size, Kipfer points out that the ‘standard screen size for archaeology is ¼-inch [6mm] mesh’ (p.219). For most Indigenous archaeological sites in Australia, 6mm is too large as considerable proportions of stone artefact and faunal assemblages would be missed. In Australia, most skilled practitioners would recommend that 2 to 3mm should be considered the standard screen size, supplemented by 1mm mesh sieves where required and samples of sediment that pass through the final sieve for each spit.

For Australian archaeologists, the American slant of The Archaeologist’s Fieldwork Companion should not dampen your enthusiasm to purchase the volume. Indeed, such a slant provides an opportunity for Australian practitioners to consider the distinctiveness of Australian archaeology. In some cases, the slant provides a few amusing asides – I now know how to treat severe frostbite! And first on the list of ‘field etiquette’ is ‘no obscene language or behavior’ (p.191) – if such was the case, then 90% of my field crews would have been dismissed in the first five minutes! For Australian archaeologists, I recommend this volume as a useful companion to the core volume The Archaeologist’s Field Handbook by Heather Burke and Claire Smith (2004).


CrowCanyon Archaeological Center 2001 The Crow Canyon Archaeological Center Field Manual. Retrieved 10 March 2008 from

Burke, H. and C. Smith 2004 The Archaeologist’s Field Handbook. Crow’s Nest, NSW: Allen and Unwin.

Review of ‘Salvage Excavation of Six Sites along Caddies, Seconds Ponds, Smalls and Cattai Creeks in the Rouse Hill Development Area, NSW’ by Jo McDonald Cultural Heritage Management Pty Ltd

Salvage Excavation of Six Sites along Caddies, Seconds Ponds, Smalls and Cattai Creeks in the Rouse Hill Development Area, NSW by Jo McDonald Cultural Heritage Management Pty Ltd, Australian Archaeological Consultancy Monograph Series 1, Australian Association of Consulting Archaeologists Inc., St Lucia, 2005, xxx+488 pp., ISBN 0 9590310 1 4.

Fiona Hook

Archae-aus Pty Ltd, PO Box 177, South Fremantle WA 6162, Australia

The publishing of grey literature has long been a talking point in Australian cultural resource management (CRM) archaeology and this book is the first in the Australian Association of Consulting Archaeologists Inc.’s (AACAI) Australian Archaeological Consultancy Monograph Series with the aim of ‘providing examples of best practice consultancy reports in archaeology and cultural heritage management’ (p.ii). The volume is a small but heftily edited version of Jo McDonald and Beth White’s (2001) consulting report prepared for the Rouse Hill Infrastructure Consortium. Set out as 13 chapters, the book details the results of the salvage excavation of six sites with the main research aim of investigating landscape and material culture relationships. Additional research aims included relating results to other studies in the Rouse Hill areas as well as the wider Cumberland Plain and investigating technological organisation of specific identified activities such as knapping floors. The excavation programme was the result of a series of surveys and test pitting excavations.

The first three chapters place the project and the Rouse Hill Development Area into context, including a discussion of the Indigenous involvement in the project. Chapters 4 and 5 outline the field, laboratory and analytical methods, as well detailing the rationale behind the flaked stone artefact investigation. While one of the aims of publishing grey literature is to provide the wider archaeological public with the results of CRM projects, Chapters 1 to 5 provide both students and CRM practitioners with examples of why and how such analyses are conducted in the first place. The lack of discussion concerning the design of the testing phase prior to detailed open area excavation is disappointing. A section on the design of the testing phase was included in the original report as part of Appendix 5, but no appendices are included in the published form.

The results of the excavation programme for each site are presented in Chapters 7 to 11. These chapters detail the soils and stratigraphy within each excavation. In all sites the only cultural material recovered were flaked stone artefacts, hence the heavy emphasis on technological analysis. The recovered artefact assemblage was analysed in terms of raw material and reduction technology. I was surprised at the lack of detailed, scaled technical plans for the excavations. Site plans do not show topography, nor is it shown how the stratigraphy of the more complex sites relates to topography, nor how topography relates to artefact distribution.

The excavated artefact assemblages are then discussed collectively in terms of: artefact densities and landscape, raw material uses and inter- and intra-site spatial patterning, technological strategies, and settlement organisation. The final chapter discusses the results of the excavations in relation to the wider Eastern Sydney region. The project results fit within the temporal, spatial and technological aspects of the Eastern Sydney regional sequence and allow the reader to fully comprehend the depth of research conducted at Rouse Hill.

While I understand the cost imperatives involved in reducing a large A4 technical report into a B5 book, the size of the text and illustrations is sometimes frustratingly small. Particularly difficult are the black and white graphs. Either size reduction or the conversion from colour or greyscale to black and white makes many graphs impossible to read (see for example Figure 0.6). However, many of these issues are mitigated by the availability of the monograph as a free downloadable file on the AACAI website ( It is also problematic that the appendices have not been included, presumably for reasons of space, since they are referred to in the text. Notwithstanding these small matters, this book provides a long-awaited example of detailed research focussed CRM project, and should become standard reading for CRM practitioners and students.

Review of ‘Neolithic’ by Susan Foster McCarter

Edwards book review cover AA66Neolithic by Susan Foster McCarter, Routledge, New York, 2007, xviii+221 pp., ISBN 978-0-415-36414-0.

Phillip C. Edwards

Archaeology Program, School of Historical and European Studies, La Trobe University, Bundoora Vic. 3086, Australia

I imagine that Australian archaeologists flip through a new book on early farming to see what it says about Melanesia. They will be disappointed in the case of Susan McCarter’s Neolithic. The region is ignored in the review of the world’s natural hearths of farming and left off the map of them completely. Rather, evidence is cherry-picked from the literature in support of general points, mainly from the regions of Southwest Asia and also Europe, with others used less often. The reader should not expect an up-to-date summary of recent research. McCarter’s book is intended as an introduction to Neolithic cultures and the world of first farming, and it does contain much useful material. There are quite authoritative sections on biological evolution, and the processes of plant and animal domestication, and there is a nicely balanced treatment of past theoretical approaches to early agriculture.

Perhaps because the pitch is intentionally general, the reader can expect to encounter generalised appeals to authority, such as ‘what most archaeologists think’ and ‘what they all believe’, for example, ‘Neolithic bowls held the same things as what they do now’ (p.6), and ‘In all known societies people work hard to make a living, love their families, worry about the health …’ (p.6). Therefore, the book is not positioned well as a university text. It is pitched at a reasonable level for secondary school students, but I think it will still struggle even to attract support in that arena. Mimicking the web-screen, school texts nowadays are packed with colourful, overlapping frames which jostle for attention, whereas Neolithic is illustrated by black-and-white ink sketches reminiscent of a 1950s production. The illustrations, like the text, are determinedly generic. They include images of unnamed mounds, ruined houses, mud-brick houses, thatched houses, the wooden frames of houses, mice, cats, dogs and men leading camels. Most arresting is the tableau of a grey wolf standing protectively over a tiny Yorkshire terrier, complete with a bow tied around its forehead (p.18). Such a combination of elements lends the work a distinct air of quaintness. Likewise, the glossary includes basic terms such as ‘gender’, ‘grain’, ‘taming’, ‘tool’ and ‘war’, while ignoring some fairly unusual features such as the food plants ‘black gram’ and ‘green gram’.

In some places the author lacks authority over the material she employs. There is frequent reference made to the Jōmon culture of Japan with its precocious pottery and edge-ground axes. Claiming that pottery in Japan occurred 8000 years before anywhere else (p.103), the author ignores the even older late Pleistocene ceramic traditions of Siberia and China, from which the Jōmon tradition may have emerged (neither is consideration given to Greater Australia in terms of the prior antiquity of edge-grinding). There is an appendix defining the geographical regions of the world, which is also a little misleading. The Levant is not a separate region to Southwest Asia, but a subregion of it; neither should it be excluded from a definition of the Mediterranean borderlands. Only a single archaeological site is placed on a map in the entire book. This comes in the form of a large star denoting Abu Hureyra in Syria, placed on an otherwise empty map of Southwest Asia.

Given that the book foregrounds the term ‘Neolithic’ in its single-worded title (lacking the usual clarifications after the colon), I would have expected it to pay a little more attention to the development of the concept. Mention is made of Lubbock’s original definition based on the advent of edge-grinding technology, and there is a further brief description of how the term became extended to denote farming people in general, but no discussion of the contradiction inherent in this latter use. It is unconvincing to see the Mississippian-period inhabitants of the Southeast United States described as a ‘Neolithic’ people (p.8), without further elaboration.

It is notable that Routledge released Neolithic in the same year as its more authoritative text on early food production (Denham and White 2007). Neolithic will not serve as an advanced text, but it would prepare the general reader for tackling the more complex papers to be found in its more sophisticated 2007 stable-mate from Routledge, edited by Denham and White.


Denham, T. and P. White (eds) 2007 The Emergence of Agriculture: A Global View. London: Routledge.

Review of ‘Archaeological Theory and the Politics of Cultural Heritage’ by Laurajane Smith

King book review cover AA66Archaeological Theory and the Politics of Cultural Heritage by Laurajane Smith, Routledge, Oxford, 2004, xi+260 pp., ISBN 978-0-415-31833-4.

Thomas F. King

SWCA Environmental Consultants, PO Box 14515, Silver Spring MD 20911, USA

This book purports to be about archaeology and cultural resource management (CRM) in Australia and the United States, but it is really only about archaeology. The introduction frames Smith’s argument – which seems to be that through CRM-as-expression-of-processual-positivism, archaeologists have provided government with a tool for the oppression of Indigenous people. Chapter 2, ‘The Cultural Politics of Identity’, elaborates on this theme based on the history of archaeological/Indigenous relations over the last 40 years. Chapter 3, titled ‘Archaeological Theory and the ‘Politics’ of the Past’, asks whether ‘contemporary archaeological theory (can) make sense of what archaeology ‘does’ within the context of CRM?’ (p.33). Smith doesn’t tell us why this question is worth asking and I for one haven’t a clue! The chapter is largely given over to a critique of processualism, and a milder one of post-processualism, offering the unremarkable observation that both ‘explain the construction of archaeological knowledge and discourse with little or no reference to influences external to the academy’ (p.56).

Ironically, Chapter 4, ‘Archaeology and the Context of Governance’, offers ‘state theory’ as a remedy to this deficiency, but goes on to discuss abstract notions of governance with practically no reference itself to anything ‘external to the academy’. As an archaeologist who has spent the last 40+ years in ‘the context of governance’, I would have liked to have seen some attempt to connect with the real world.

Chapter 5, ‘Archaeological Stewardship’, casts a jaundiced eye on the claims of archaeologists to be ‘stewards’ of archaeological resources, as these claims have informed the development of CRM since the 1970s. Chapter 6, on ‘Significance Concepts and the Embedding of Processual Discourse in Cultural Resource Management’, explains how archaeologists have tended to value sites on the basis of their research potential, and suggests that by doing so they have seized a position of dominance in CRM. Chapter 7, ‘The Role of Legislation in the Governance of Material Culture in America [sic: the United States] and Australia’, discusses the development of the archaeological parts of United States and Australian heritage legislation. The last two chapters before a short conclusion are case studies – Kennewick Man in the United States, Franklin Dam and related cases in Australia.

Throughout the book, Smith castigates archaeologists for failing to respect and include interests in the past other than those derived from the positivist scientific tradition. Unfortunately, Smith’s treatise exemplifies the narrow-mindedness she deplores. Smith criticises archaeology for being ‘overly self-referential’, but her book is a perfect example of self-reference. Consider, for example, how Smith defines CRM. On page 1 she states it means ‘the process and procedures, often underpinned by public policy and legislation, used to protect, preserve and/or conserve cultural heritage items, sites, places and monuments’. Then, she defines it as ‘the processes, informed by public policy and heritage legislation, that manage and protect Indigenous cultural heritage, and in doing so, construct and define relations between archaeologists, Indigenous interests and government’ (p.9). CRM is again later defined as ‘the process concerned with the management of material or tangible cultural heritage’ (p.195). These are pretty fair expressions of what archaeologists in the southwestern United States, who more or less coined the term in the 1970s, took (and generally still take) CRM to mean. However, would any non-archaeologist define it this way? Are ‘cultural resources’ really only tangible things? Are they really ever tangible things? Is a dance form not a cultural resource? A song, a story, a traditional belief? What about a community’s feeling of identity, and an individual’s feeling of membership in a culture? What about religion?

But, you protest, Smith is an archaeologist writing for other archaeologists. Why should she not conceptualise CRM as other archaeologists do? I see that there are three reasons. First, Smith’s distaste for the influence of scientific positivism on CRM would make no sense if she didn’t believe that other points of view, other realities, should have access to and roles to play in the enterprise of CRM. By failing to even consider broader-than-archaeological definitions of the term, she displays as narrow an understanding of the field as do those she criticises. Second, by viewing CRM through an archaeological lens, Smith fails to acknowledge the roles played by innumerable other interests – for instance those of taxpayers, property owners, practitioners of non-archaeological heritage professions, government agencies (except as neocolonial stereotypes) and local (non-Indigenous) communities. This results in a portrait of CRM that is very incomplete and hence misleading. Third, the appropriation of CRM by archaeologists in the United States has caused government operations, notably environmental impact assessment (EIA), to effectively ignore those portions of the cultural universe that don’t happen to be archaeological sites. This is rather a problem for people who practice and value non-tangible aspects of culture – presumably the kinds of people whose perspectives Smith would like to see CRM accommodate. But Smith, like the archaeologists who invented CRM, doesn’t seem to relate well either to living cultures or to government operations. It is indicative that she manages only two brief references to EIA despite its absolute centrality to CRM and the opportunities it offers to involve and respect the non-archaeological interests Smith says CRM ought to engage.

To Smith, CRM is all about archaeology – Indigenous archaeology, that is. Smith never acknowledges the existence of the historical archaeology of non-Indigenous populations, any more than she does such companion CRM disciplines as architectural history, historical architecture, and history. She also gives strangely short shrift to the government agencies that actually do CRM or cause it to be done. They are alluded to, but only as shadowy abstractions somewhere in the background, manipulating archaeologists and being manipulated by the deus ex machina of ‘archaeological theory’. Nor do the regulated industries and private development interests that mostly finance CRM play much of a role in Smith’s worldview, and she seems uninterested in the effects of the field’s increasing domination by profit-making consulting firms. To Smith, the character of the CRM enterprise, and its ills, result from the dominance of processual archaeology in the 1980s when the field was developing. Processualists are portrayed as allowing, or making, archaeology become a ‘technology of government’ at the expense of Indigenous interests. The world of politics and bureaucracy within which CRM actually exists is of as little relevance to Smith as it is to the unengaged archaeologists she criticises. And the possibility that government might have some reason for its use of ‘technologies’ like archaeology other than the colonialist oppression of Indigenous populations appears foreign to her.

This book is very much a study by, for, and about academic archaeology, and it describes a CRM that I at least don’t recognise. Perhaps it’s an accurate portrayal of how things are in Australia, but its image of the United States is a fantasy. Indicative of this fantastical quality is that in Smith’s discussion of CRM in the United States, Smith devotes only about two pages of badly outdated description to the National Historic Preservation Act 1966 (NHPA) – the primary driver of the whole enterprise. She gives much more attention to the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act 1990 (NAGPRA), including a chapter-long discussion of the Kennewick Man case. This is an interesting and fairly accurate discussion, but rather marginal to the overall practice and challenges of CRM in the United States.

And yet, one of the most maddening things about this book is that on some very basic points I think Smith is right, and she expresses some useful notions, albeit buried in convoluted prose. The implicit dominance of positivism among archaeologists in the 1970s and thereafter (whether processualists or culture historians) did help put archaeology on a collision course with the rising tide of Indigenous awareness and demand for respect. Archaeological ‘science’ is widely assumed in government to represent truth, in contrast with Indigenous ‘myth’. Archaeologists dominate the CRM enterprise, and do impose their worldviews on its practice, to the detriment of all others. Notions of the preeminence of ‘scientific’ thinking are embedded in government policies and procedures, biasing decision-making against Indigenous values. Indigenous interests and values are now gaining broadened political understanding and acceptance, however, and many archaeologists are struggling to deal with their relatively diminished authority. These are real issues, which – among many others – could benefit from serious exploration. Unfortunately, Smith doesn’t provide it in this book.

Smith’s failure to connect with the world beyond the academy also deprives her of some analytical opportunities. For example, United States National Park Service’s insistence that all Tribal Historic Preservation Officers who receive its grant support maintain archaeologists on staff is an expression of archaeology’s dominance of governmental thinking in CRM, but it has created a context in which archaeologists are learning to respect tribal views and values, and tribes are coming to understand and appropriate archaeology. This sort of thing is apparently unknown to Smith; aside from a few approving (and entirely merited) references to the work of Larry Zimmerman, she seems unaware that archaeologists in the United States are even working with Indigenous communities, much less for them.

I could go on and on, but let me end with a more technical quibble. As I worked my way through Smith’s book, I kept thinking, with apologies to Lerner, Lowe and Henry Higgins, ‘Why didn’t the processualists teach their children how to write?’ A minor irritant is Smith’s consistent use of the word ‘subsequently’ when she means ‘consequently’, but more generally, her style is turgid, pedantic, and impenetrable – which seems strange in someone who argues for inclusiveness.

Review of ‘The Social Archaeology of Australian Indigenous Societies’ edited by Bruno David, Bryce Barker and Ian J. McNiven

Cosgrove book review cover AA66The Social Archaeology of Australian Indigenous Societies edited by Bruno David, Bryce Barker and Ian J. McNiven, Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra, 2006, xiv+382 pp., ISBN 0-85575-499-0 (pbk).

Richard Cosgrove

Archaeology Program, School of Historical and European Studies, La Trobe University, Bundoora Vic. 3086, Australia

This book is dedicated to Harry Lourandos and edited by three of his ex-students from the University of Queensland. It is divided into five sections and each deals with an aspect of ‘social archaeology’, its emergence, development, application, achievements and theoretical underpinning. Part 5 seems out of place somewhat with a lone chapter by Barbara Bender that may have been better placed in Part 1. It is generally well-produced although there are a few typographical errors and one clanger in Lourandos’ bibliographic references; his erroneously titled 1968 paper.

Lourandos’ work had an archaeological and political impact on his students and other followers as evidenced by this volume. He generated vigorous debates about the changes recorded in the Australian late Holocene archaeological record. He is generally credited with introducing the concept of ‘intensification’ into Australian archaeology and, as argued by some throughout the book, refocused thinking on the trajectories of past change. He emphasised the need to move away from the ecological/environmental deterministic explanations that he saw as generally powerful in explanting change in the late Pleistocene but not so in the late Holocene. The book illustrates how dependent social archaeology is on the availability of good ethnography and history as frameworks for explanation in late Holocene change.

The first part of the book investigates the tension that Lourandos saw between the ecological approach and the need to bring ‘people’ into archaeological explanations to create a social archaeology. The first chapter by McNiven et al. is devoted to rehearsing the history of those changes and referencing much of the work of Lourandos and others with an interest in promoting the social explanatory agenda. There is an interview with Harry Lourandos that repeats many of the arguments made in his papers throughout his career and claims that his most ardent critics simply misunderstood his writings are peppered throughout the interview. The chapter by Sandra Bowdler is a very personal view on the achievements of Lourandos and his background, putting into a particular context the driving force behind his development of the social archaeological agenda.

Part 2 of the book deals with the influence of earlier writings on the perception of Aboriginal people, particularly the way hunter-gatherers were characterised as separate entities from agriculturalists and horticulturalists. This is the theme developed by Bruno David and Tim Denham from the static/dynamic dichotomy with clear links to Lourandos’ previous work strongly articulated in his 1985 paper, ‘Intensification and Australian prehistory’. Ironically the latter term, ‘prehistory’, identified by David and Denham as ‘prejudicial’ (p.57) was used by Lourandos throughout his 1985 paper. Bryce Barker’s chapter distinguishes the early ethnographic observations of Roth and Tindale with the archaeological results from his Whitsunday Islands work. It is a cautionary tale of the over-reliance on historical writings, where errors of fact become compounded by future writers unable or unwilling to establish the archaeological veracity of the observations.

Ian McNiven explores the exogenous and endogenous influence on Aboriginal peoples using the appearance of microlithic stone artefacts, canoes and the dingo as examples. He challenges the view that change has only come from inside, particularly through his work in the Torres Strait, and makes the point that the dingo was probably introduced from New Guinea. Recent genetic research by Hudjashov et al. (2007), however, importantly suggests quite limited physical contact during the Holocene. Material items and ideas can be quite fluid between separate populations, a point made by McNiven, and recent microlithic technology dated to 15,000–13,000 BP identified in Queensland would suggest an earlier invention/introduction not associated with the dingo. McNiven sees outrigger canoe technology as a way that coastal Aborigines increased their use of marine resources due to demands of higher populations through social imperatives, although we are not told what the specific catalysts for increasing populations were. This is a general problem with Lourandos’ late Holocene intensification stance because of the inherent circularity of the argument. Large populations generate social complexity; social complexity brings about increased demand for productivity, which leads to larger populations.

The intensity with which some of the writers defend Lourandos’ contribution to Australian archaeology is evident in the book. The ‘call to arms’ chapter by Deborah Brain attempts to shore up his legacy by advocating a more tenacious use of the undiluted ‘intensification’ concept before it slips away due to ‘a kind of creeping ambiguity’. She argues that critics have not only misrepresented Lourandos’ work but also his ideal by necessarily aligning it with so-called ‘traditionalists’, a contamination no less. She states that Lourandos made people (Australian archaeologists?) uncomfortable because he saw Holocene Aboriginal societies deviating from traditional notions of ‘hunter-gatherer cultures’ in the late Holocene. It is also true that some were uncomfortable for other reasons, particularly the lack of clearly stated archaeological correlates of social complexity that delineated the late Holocene from other periods. Indeed some argued that the changes could be explained in other ways and that the generalised continental pattern did not stand up to scrutiny when regional signatures were closely examined. The presence of rock art, body adornment, composite hafted tools, raw material movement, maritime technology, patterned land use, resource management, symbolic behaviour, increased site use, ritual burial of the dead and the conquest of marginal environments were hall marks of late Pleistocene and early Holocene regional archaeologies, not just of the late Holocene.

Part 3, Anthropological Approaches and the chapters therein more clearly demonstrate the links between the ethnography and the understanding past cultural complexity. We see through the eyes of the eight anthropologists – Luke Godwin and James Weiner; Marcia Langton; John Bradley; Amanda Kearney and John Bradley; Franca Tamisari and James Wallace – the attempt to integrate the social aspects of peoples’ lives with their material remains as well as their landscapes. Views of people’s pasts are couched in terms of the Dreaming, where stone artefacts, water bodies, symbolic landscapes delineated by cycad patches and processing stones, for example, take on different meanings to those of the archaeologists. Armed with these insights it is not surprising that a richer and more multilayered understanding of the mundane material remains and resource zones can be had. The ‘tyranny of the ethnographic record’ first expressed by Wobst always limits archaeologists delving into the deeper past because the behavioural strands of ethnographic connection become ever more tenuous and, the scale and resolution of the archaeological record becomes coarser.

In Part 4 archaeological data and its relevance to explaining the social aspects of past lives are discussed. Donald Pate’s chapter is instructive in the use of scientific analyses to untangle the threads of social connections. Using stable isotope analysis, palaeopathology, non-metrical cranial measurements and observed mortuary practices identified at Roonka Flat, Pate challenges the notion of egalitarian Aboriginal society. He makes the point that these Murray River societies were chronologically distinguished along lines of gender where males appear to be common in the early Holocene burials whereas females are increasingly interned, with grave goods differentially distributed between older males and females. These he saw as providing evidence of social stratification through time, particularly male authoritarianism.

Peter Veth also provides a model for understanding the occupation and settlement of the Western Desert using both archaeology and historical documents. He suggests a six-phase occupation pattern linked to the evidence for environmental change, associated archaeological variability and possible language diffusion into the region. He suggests that the tempo of occupation increased with the establishment of territory based on the diversity of late Holocene art in the arid zone.

Environmental change in south-western Victoria at fine scales are discussed by John Tibby, Peter Kershaw, Heather Bilth, Aline Philibert and Christopher White. Their analysis of a sediment core from Lake Surprise reveals that beginning about 3700 years ago high levels of climatic variability are seen in the core. They suggest that this instability may have been a catalyst for the social changes identified by a number of archaeologists working in the region. This runs counter to the arguments for socially-driven change within Aboriginal society in this area at this time, although separating the competing arguments of the reasons for change is difficult because there are no clear correlates to provide primacy of one over the other.

Work by Cassandra Rowe and Melissa Carter discuss the archaeology of the Torres Strait region where pre- and post-sea-level change are identified in relation to the changing settlement patterns on Badu, Mer, Dauar and Waier Islands. Both environmental data and ethnohistorical evidence is used to compliment the archaeology of the region. Changes in subsistence practices are identified that depart significantly from the pre-2000 BP occupation period and challenge earlier formulations of subsistence practise.

This book covers a lot of ground within the ‘intensification’ gambit. However, those expecting a critical analysis from authors who have taken different views on the ‘intensification’ debate will be disappointed and remains one of the limitations of the book. However, it will be of interest to students as well as to a general archaeological audience interested in the origin and development of ideas first formulated by Harry Lourandos. It can be said that he made a significant and lively contribution to an understanding of Indigenous Australian cultures. His legacy will continue to endure, within the archaeological literature and broader debates on the nature of late Holocene cultural changes.


Hudjashova, G., T. Kivisild, P.A. Underhill, P. Endicott, J.J. Sanchez, A.A. Lin, P. Shen, P. Oefner, C. Renfrew, R. Villems and P. Forster 2007 Revealing the prehistoric settlement of Australia by Y chromosome and mtDNA analysis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 104(21):8726-8730.

Review of ‘Artefact Classification: A Conceptual and Methodological Approach’ by Dwight W. Read

Frankel book review cover AA66Artefact Classification: A Conceptual and Methodological Approach by Dwight W. Read, Left Coast Press, Walnut Creek, CA, 2007, 363 pp., ISBN 9781598741025.

David Frankel

Archaeology Program, School of Historical and European Studies, La Trobe University, Bundoora Vic. 3086, Australia

This important contribution summarises a lifetime involvement with teaching, developing and debating approaches to artefact classification. Dwight Read brings to this task his own varied contributions and highly-developed logical and mathematical skills. Classification can take several forms and have different aims. While pragmatic classifications help organise masses of material, aiding information retrieval, Read is more concerned with the deeper issues underlying the ways in which we structure artefacts and analyse our data and how these affect the questions we ask. His work is situated firmly within the Americanist tradition of archaeology as anthropology, implicitly favouring a processual agenda and with an underlying principle that our classifications should in some sense mirror the emic classifications and concepts of their makers and users. Running through the book is a concern for the compatibility of the ideational and the material or phenomenological – that is how to relate ‘ideal’ forms with the varied and diverse examples found in the real world.

The initial literature review deals with the classic systems of typological analysis which have characterised American archaeology over several generations, from Rouse, Brew and Krieger in the 1930s and 1940s to Ford in the 1950s and on to Adams and Adams’ 1990s arguments for multiple, special-purpose, rather than universal typologies and Dennell’s ‘systematics’. The fundamental concepts, logic and structures of these varied approaches are summarised and critically evaluated, providing a basis for establishing key principles and definitions. Read appears most critical of the Adams and Adams utilitarian approach, although both he and they are concerned with problem-oriented approaches. While it is difficult in a study of principles such as this to situate general ideas in specifics, nevertheless some greater consideration could have been given to the ways in which aims and problems affect – or are affected by – approaches to classification. A longer discussion of pottery typologies, built on an analysis of the influential type-variety system as developed in the 1950s, follows. As with much American archaeology, methods and ideas developed elsewhere in the world receive relatively little attention. It is a pity that other formal approaches to definition and analysis were not also addressed in a similar fashion. The work of David Clarke in Analytical Archaeology (1968), for example, deals explicitly with many similar issues, situating definitions of attributes and of types within a set of structured spatial, temporal and cultural frameworks, and developing systems leading directly to explanation.

Having attacked and developed some key principles in discussing these approaches, Read moves on to consider ‘objective’ approaches to classification. A strong critique of Spaulding’s early statistical techniques provides a starting point for drawing out and clarifying additional concepts, such the nature of attributes and how their association or combination should be used and understood – in part a consideration of patterning on individual objects and patterning of groups of objects. This sets the scene for a further critique of other techniques, such as numerical taxonomy. Once again, summary and critique allow a discussion of related issues: here problems and sometimes confusions in the use of different types of variables and dimensions of variation are dealt with.

This leads directly on to a consideration of measurement. Here, as elsewhere, Read is concerned that the techniques used and attributes selected should have some cultural saliency, and be useful for or relevant to understanding past behaviour. The discussion then moves to a more technical consideration of particular ways of measuring and defining artefact shape. Two issues come to the fore: whether it is possible to define artefact classes that are internally homogenous and externally isolated; and a belief that objects are artefacts by virtue of the way they are conceived by their makers and/or users. Aspects of such ‘conceptualisations’ are then explored in a brief discussion of production sequences and chaîne-opératoire.

In developing methodologies of quantitative classification Read reconsiders what he has previously identified as ‘the double bind problem’, where the identification of culturally salient artefact types depends on comparisons of individual artefacts with others of the same type, although obviously we cannot know what that type is in advance. He resolves this problem by a comparison of measurements of individual items with a group of other items, in order to identify aggregate patterning as the basis for class definition. Appropriate statistical procedures are described in detail with case studies of stone tools and pottery vessels. Further qualitative methods are then presented which look at patterning based on type frequency counts, leading to productive insights into behavioural patterns.

While earlier discussions and examples tend to concentrate on functional or ‘usage’ types, the final section deals with the vexed question of style and function. Here an approach is set up which separates traits as functional, isochestic, truncated and neutral. This forms the basis for considering aspects of cultural transmission, development and selection, set within a discussion of evolutionary archaeology. Here more reference could have been made to more of the literature on learning and cultural reproduction: considering those aspects which go to define groups in the present and, more problematically, in the past.

These issues, as with others, involve the nature and degree of variability in attributes, artefacts and assemblages. However, there could have been some greater recognition that variability is not so much a problem to be overcome, as a problem to be addressed. This necessitates clearer definitions of context, assemblage definition and scale. While relationships and traditions may be seen as shifting modes of individual or sets of attributes through time or across space, the degree of variability within cultural systems can give different insights, into, for example, how inclusive or exclusive a community might be, or the degree to which individuality may be expressed. The measurement of variability, of course, presupposes equivalent units of observation, for variation is likely to increase with duration and distance – often themselves dependent on understanding degrees of depositional and taphonomic integrity. These issues of context, scale and integrity are not clearly addressed by Read, although his views on the nature and impact of natural or artificial assemblage boundaries would be of interest, and would expose additional structures in the archaeological record which constrain or define research problems and the identification of patterns within and between different datasets.

How relevant is this book to Australian readers? On the one hand, it is a valuable study of some key issues in and approaches to archaeological practice. On the other, its relatively limited scope, its focus on material which falls more readily into different classes and its failure to address the inherent complexities in the archaeological record limit direct application to the generally more amorphous local assemblages of stone tools, all too often from contexts of low temporal definition.